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Interview 13

Age at interview: 20
Brief Outline: Young, single mother. Pregnancy unplanned. Well supported by family. Had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (pelvic pain) and cholestasis (liver problem) during pregnancy.
Background: Children' 1, aged 8 months at time of interview. Occupations' Mother- shop assistant, Father- delivery driver. Marital status' single. Ethnic background' White British. Played by an actor.

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Discovering she was pregnant unexpectedly was a big shock - she was upset to have to cancel plans...

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It was a big shock.

Was it?

A really big shock, because I wasn't expecting it. I wanted a career, I wanted to be a midwife. I was crying my eyes out for about three weeks saying, 'I didn't want it, didn't want it, don't want it'. And then when it really like sunk in it was 'It's mine, it's my baby, I've got to have it. I love her. Do you know what I mean? I wouldn't change her for the world now she's come along. But, you know, she was a really big shock. 

Not to my family though, all my family were made up, they were all brilliant. Especially my mum, my mum was the best. My dad, he had a bit of a scream and a shout and that, but he realized that he couldn't do nothing. I'm an adult, he can't stop me from doing anything. But her dad was the best as well, her dad was like made up and things like this. Because he's quite old, well, he's a few years older than me, but he was made up, do you know what I mean? 

And I wasn't at first. I didn't want it. But now I wouldn't change her. 

So it was quite difficult when you found out that you were pregnant?

Yeah, because I was going into the, I was, I was going into the army to train to be a nurse, to come out to become a midwife. And I was all set to go in the army, I only had like a couple of exams to go and then I would have been in. And it was actually the day before I was going into the army exams that I done the pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant. So that was a big shock for me, because it was like I had to phone them and tell them 'No, I can't go', and explain to them why. So it was a shock because then I thought my career's going down the pan now and things like this. But now I'm back at work I know I'm not. It's better for me and it's better for her, really, because if she needs anything, I'm there for her, I've got the money. So I'd rather just do it that way.

 

For the first few weeks she felt she did not want the baby, but seeing the baby at the first scan...

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I think it was about two, three weeks before I went for my scan so it was about, I was about, I think it was about three, four weeks I was going on 'Oh, I don't want her, I don't want her, I don't want the baby'. But they were all saying to me, 'Just, just wait, just wait, just, just wait. You'll see how, you'll see how you feel in the next few weeks'. But when I went in for my first scan and I seen it, that was it, I knew that I wanted this baby and I'd love this baby, do you know what I mean? 

But that, that, I think that was the turning point for me then, when I went and actually had my first scan. That was my turning point for me, that this baby was mine and it was growing inside me and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't have dreamt of hurting it then, do you know what I mean? But I wasn't, I wasn't that keen on it at first, I was saying, 'No, I don't want it'. I think most girls do in places, don't they? But, no, I wouldn't change her now, wouldn't do.

 

She preferred one midwife who took time to explain things in a way she could understand. (Played...

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You didn't always get the same midwife, you had all different ones. Some of them were, some of them were nice. Some of them were a bit funny with you. They'd just like, 'Lie on the bed. Check the baby's heartbeat. Oh, yeah, that's fine. Urine. That's fine. Okay, see you in three weeks, or see you whenever' do you know? Other ones they'd sit there and talk to you and ask you if you'd got any problems and things like that. It's like, my midwife actually that I went to first when I found out I had my SPD [symphysis pubis disorder, pelvic joint pain] and my midwife like explained everything to me. Because when I asked the hospital the hospital just said, 'Oh, it's this and...' The way the hospital talk it was like all medical terms and I didn't really understand what they were going on about, because it was all dead long words and things like that. 

So I went and asked my midwife, made an appointment and asked my midwife, and my midwife explained what everything was for me. And it was like, it was better for me really because it was the midwife that I used to get on with. She was really nice. She explained that, what to do and things like that and that. To wear my back brace. And she was always checking the baby to make sure the baby was in the right position. But other than that she was just fine, she was lovely.

 

Professionals should use clearer language and not talk down to younger women. Pregnancy books...

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And if you were going to offer advice to health professionals like doctors and midwives about how to deal with young people, very young women who are having babies, what would you say to them?

I'd ask them, I'd actually tell them that you need to get on the wavelength of the, the person that you're talking to. Because most of them they do talk down to you as if, 'I know what I'm talking about, I'm a professional' and things like this and, 'I've done this for years' kind of thing. Because we did have one in the hospital that done that. But if you are going to talk to like a young adult like me at least sit there and listen to what they've got to say. And then try and say, not in the big long medical words, because people like me don't understand them, because I don't. There might be certain people out there that do, but I don't. But if you do, if they was I'd ask them to, like I'd say to them, 'You need to get on the wavelength that these, these people are on because you need to know what, what's wrong with them and that'. 

And the thing about my cholestasis I think it should be in books, because I've tried, I've searched through books and there's not one book that I've read that has, that's mentioned cholestasis at all. I've searched through books. I've made my mum go to a library and get me loads and I can't find nothing about it in pregnancy books. So I think that needs to be in a book, you know, about that or what the medical terms are really, what causes it, what to look out for. You have pre-eclampsia and that in your books and things like that, but you don't have nothing about to do with your liver, or, or any other organs in your body that could fail on you, do you know what I mean, and things like that. I think it all should be mentioned in books.

 
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It was emotional feeling the baby kick, but she hated feeling so big. (Played by an actor.)

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Did you, when you, when you started to sort of, you know, get bigger and your body was changing and stuff, how did, how did that feel to you?

Different, weird, it was really weird because I was still only slim when she was kicking me. I'd only had like a little pop and she was kicking away. So to me it felt weird because I had this like little tiny bump. And then it come to about, I think it was about six months, and I just ballooned out, and I went enormous and you could see her moving her arms and things like that. But it was, I felt dead weird, I felt disgusting.

Did you?

Yeah. Although it was in the middle of summer I was wearing trackie bottoms and big baggy T-shirts, to try and hide the bump, because I felt massive, I felt huge. They were saying, everyone was saying, “Oh, you've got a dead neat tiny bump” and things like this. I didn't, to me it felt huge. I felt enormous and it was just knocking me sick. I just wanted it over with so I could have my body back to myself, that was it. So, that's the only thing I'd have felt. It was emotional though when I first felt her kick and I first seen her move across my stomach and things like that. I did get a bit upset because you - as you do, don't you, when you're, you're lying there and nothing happens and then all of a sudden you get this big boot coming out, this big foot coming out your stomach or this big arm, and it's the first time you'd seen her and things like that. So I did get emotional with that. But that was it, I just wanted my body back to myself. It was knocking me sick being fat, [laugh] knocking me sick having this bump in front of me, because I felt like I was walking like a Womble.

Like a Womble?

Mm. I felt like I was walking like a Womble. And my auntie used to actually sing to me, “Remember you're a Womble” because I used to say, “I walk, I look like a Womble. I'm walking like one and I look like one”.

 

She tended to get very emotional and angry with her family during pregnancy. (Played by an actor.)

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I hated everyone, didn't want no one near me, hated everyone. I actually had a fight in work, when I was pregnant, with my boss, because he, he cut me down from 32 hours a week to 16 and made me stand on a till. And I ended up having a fight with him and walking out because my emotions were high, my hormones were up the wall, because my body wasn't used to it. The slightest person would only have to say, 'Hello' to me and I'd bite their head off. Just stupid little things like that. Like my mum for instance, my mum would come in the room, go, 'Are you all right?' And I'd like swear at her or just tell her to get out of my face. And she knew I never meant it, but it was because I think it was my hormones up the wall. But that's what done my head in, because I was really angry-headed when I was carrying her, really. It was horrible, because I just used to flip for nothing. I used to just scream and shout at people and things like that. Like my brother, I battered my brother when I was pregnant. And my sister, because the pair of them just were getting on my nerves. They were just sitting there and they were like rubbing my belly and talking to the baby and because it done my head in, I flipped because it was just the way I was. I was too hot, I just wanted it over and done with, from start to end I wanted it finished with, I just wanted her out.

So it was doing my head in.

Are your brother and sister older or younger?

Younger, younger. But no, I had to, they just drove me up the - it was my hormones. I actually went to the doctor and asked the doctor about it and the doctor just said to me, 'It's your hormones. Because your body's not used to carrying the baby because you're only young yourself,' he said, 'your hormones are all up the wall' he said. 'So that's why you're biting everyone's head off' he said. 'Just try and relax. If you think you're going to bite someone's head off, go for a little walk or go outside and have some fresh air or something' he said. 'And try and like take deep breaths and calm, count to ten' he said. 'Try and do anything to relax you, go and have a bath or anything' he said. 'Just don't be flipping,' he said, 'because you're going to need everyone around you'. I don't know. But it's my hormones. I still blame them to this day, that it's my hormones.

 

She split up from her partner when she got pregnant, because she could not cope with him as well...

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Was anything else going on?

Not really, no. Me and my partner split up, me and the baby's dad, that upset me.

When, how far along into the pregnancy did that happen?

I think I was, I think I was about five months. He'd gone on holiday with his brother and I'd gone for my second scan when I found out I was - I asked them, could they tell me what the sex was? They told me I was having a little girl. And I tried to phone him all day to let him know that he was having a little girl, and I just couldn't get no answer. And then when I finally got in contact with him in the night he was like dead funny with me and dead weird and things like that. So I told him he was having a little girl and he just went, 'Oh, that's nice' and put the phone down. And then it was like a week or so after, when he come off his holiday, that I thought, 'I can't cope with you no more, you're just, you're really str-, you're acting like a big kid, you're really stressing me out'.

Did he not care?

You see he does care, but it's just, I think he was a bit, I think he felt a bit jealous because I live with my mum and my stepdad. So I think he felt a bit jealous because they were doing everything for me. If I needed something they'd go and get me it, and if I needed something for the baby they'd like say, 'Give us the money, we'll go and get it'. I think he felt a bit pushed out at first. But I told him not to be, but it was, it wasn't working for a while, we had all bickering for a while. I think to be honest with you we were really staying together just for the baby, just for the fact that I was pregnant and the baby's sake. But we had a good long talk about it and I says, 'Well, you can see the baby when you want. I'm not going to stop you. But, please, do me a favour, don't ask me to get back with you because I couldn't cope with you. I've got enough.' I said, 'I've got the baby, you're like a big baby yourself'. But I was thinking he was jealous or he felt pushed out, one or the two.

How much older is he than you?

Six years.

So he was 24?

Yeah. So he's still a big kid himself.

How long had you been together when this happened, when the pregnancy happened?

Two and a half years.

Right, so a good while?

Two and a half years we'd been together. I still see him now like, but, no, couldn't, couldn't go back down that lane. You know, two and a half years we were together. It was nice for about two years, and then that half a year it just started going down the pan, started arguing over everything and bickering, and I moved out and come back home and things like that, because I just couldn't, couldn't cope with him.

 

She had very painful symphysis pubis disorder (pelvic joint pain) and used a back brace and...

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Why did you need a back brace?

My SPD, which is symphysis pubic disorder. It's your pubic bone, it's where they crack, mine cracked. The baby's bum was actually leaning on my pubic bone and cracked it. And I went into hospital with it, and I ended up on crutches and having to go to see a physio. 

And the physio give me a back brace and it went, well, I suppose it'd have to go round my back and then go under my bump and push my bump up to push the baby up, so that the baby was away from my pubic bone so that it could stop the pain on the pubic bone and so the pubic bone could like mend easier. But I had that on for a while, and I was taking loads of painkillers for it because it was dead painful. I was on crutches, but then I stopped using the crutches because the crutches were causing me damage. I, it was raining one day and I nearly slipped with the crutches, so I said to my mum, 'I'm not using them no more, I'd rather just walk'. And, and I took off one day at a time and walked and walked, and now I, I feel fine. I feel as fit as a fiddle, as if nothing had happened.

How long did that go on for?

I went to hospital with that when I was 32 weeks pregnant. They said to me as well if the baby didn't turn within a week I'd have to have a Caesarean and have the baby out, because my bone would be too delicate to give birth. But I had that. I was using the crutches, and I used the crutches for all four weeks, five weeks at the most. And then I just give up. But they said it can take up to twelve months after your having the baby that your, your bone actually goes back to, back to normal, the way it should be. But they've already advised me that if I do get pregnant again it's likely it will crack again. Because it's already cracked once it'll crack again with the pressure of the baby pushing down and everything. So I'm never getting pregnant again with that one anyway. 

 
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She had terrible itching which was treated as an allergy at first, until a doctor diagnosed...

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Cholestasis is a rare disease with your liver which you can sometimes get with pregnancy. But, as the doctors and that said, your liver, you need your liver when you're pregnant because it fights all the badness in you, your bloodstream and things like that. But also while it's stopped working it's fighting against the baby, so your child stops growing at that time. And I was about 34 weeks pregnant when I first noticed I had like this little tiny rash on my stomach which is the start of either pre-eclampsia or cholestasis. 

I had this like little rash on my stomach and when I went to the hospital about it because it was really itching, it was keeping me up at night - although it was only tiny it was keeping me up at night - they turned round and they said it was like an allergic reaction to my soap powder. So they give me Piriton tablets and cream and told me to come back if the rash went worse. So a week after when I was about 35 weeks pregnant it had gone up my chest and down my legs and things like that. And they said I'd had an allergic reaction to my skin stretching, which I'd never heard of, give me more tablets, more cream. Went back again when I was about 36 weeks pregnant and they, they said I was allergic to the cream that they'd give me. So they give me another set of cream and asked me to come back in two weeks. So they left it for a week and I went back when I was 38 weeks pregnant and I said to them, 'This is the fourth time I've been in now, I want something done about it. I'm getting baths at three, four o'clock in the morning because the itching's that bad. I'm getting freezing cold baths to stop the itching. I'm making myself bleed, because I'm clawing myself that much that I've had to put like bandages on to stop the bleeding because I'm clawing my skin that much because it's really bad. I want something done'. 

So like they kept me in overnight and took bloods. And then on the Wednesday morning the doctor come to see me, and I asked the doctor what was going on and he like told me it was cholestasis and explained what it all was and things like that. And I says, 'Well, why didn't you notice this when you took bloods when I was 34 weeks pregnant?' 'I'm sorry' they said, 'But we lost your blood results, your blood results got mixed up with someone else's so we didn't realise that you had it at all till now'. So I says, 'Well, I've gone now for nearly four, four or five weeks with this cholestasis. I need to know every, every detail about it'. So like one of the midwives sat down and explained everything, that it's about your liver and things like that, and stuff like that. 

But they said, 'The baby's stopped growing'. And I went, 'What do you mean, the baby's stopped growing?' She went, 'Well, once you start getting this cholestasis it means' she said, 'in some cases the child stops growing'. She went, 'In other cases, in other cases' she said, 'the baby just carries on as normal'. She went, 'But in rare cases the baby stops growing.' She said, 'And when you went down for your scan this morning' she went, 'the baby wasn't engaged or nothing ready'. She went, 'The baby's lying across you and it only looks like a small baby'. So I said, 'Well, what's going to happen?' She went 'The baby's going to need, might need special care when it comes out in case like it, it's underweight and things like this'. 

So I said, 'Okay'. That was on the Wednesday. The Friday they let me come home for a few hours so I can get some bits together and things, because they were starting me off on the Saturday.
 
 

The responsibility of caring for her daughter was overwhelming at first, but she was determined...

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I mean, does it feel strange to you in some way to be so young yourself and to have all this responsibility?

It did at first. I was a bit overwhelmed at first, because I thought to myself, 'I've got her now for eighteen years or longer', do you know what I mean? 'But I'm going to have to look after her. She, she's going to depend on me now for the rest of her life, and am I going to be able to cope with this and things like that?' And that, that's, I think that's what upset me the most, the thought that, I was thinking to myself, 'Am I going to be a bad mum? And there's people going to judge me because I'm so young and having a baby and things like that.' But now it doesn't bother me because I've done it for six months now. I've got like the rest of her life to do it, I'm trying my hardest and that's all I can do. I can only do it to the best of my ability. 

As most, as most girls probably fret saying, 'Oh, no, I can't, I can't do it. I'm scared and I need help off everyone'. You can only do what you can do to the best of your ability. If you, if you feel like you can't do it, then you can't do it. But there's no such word as can't. You've got to have a try, do you know what I mean? And that's what my mum was telling me, 'There's no such word as can't, so don't be saying you can't do it. Try. Try and change a nappy, try and make the bottle', do you know what I mean? But, as my mum said, 'You should know.' I should know all this anyway because I used to babysit for my mate and she, I was babysitting from when the twins were my age, the twins were our baby's age. So I had to change their bums and do their nappies. But to me that was different because they weren't mine. 

They weren't my responsibility 24/7, they were hers. I'd only mind them now and again, like if she needed to go somewhere like to do shopping or something, I'd mind them. But to me she, she's my responsibility. It's now 24/7 I've got her. But I wouldn't change her for the world. I would not change her for the world. 

 

She enjoys being back at work part-time because it gets her out of the house and talking to other...

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So when you move into your own place and you have her on your own, what, who will look after her when you go to work?

My mum. My mum and my sister, they will. Those two said they'll come round and they'll, they'll get her or they'll mind her in the house or they'll ask me to walk up with her, and they'll mind her and things like that. Or the baby's dad. He'll come, he'll gladly come and take her off for me. He always does. If I ever, if I need anything I just phone him and he'll go, 'Oh, I'll be up in a minute and I'll get her' and things like that. Or if my mum and that can't do it because they're in work, and he's not, so I phone him and say to him, 'Can you have the baby?' and things like this, do you know what I mean? And he goes, 'Yeah.' Comes up to get her and he takes her for a while. So she gets, I have got like a good supporting family. Because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be back at work, because it was actually my mum and my stepdad that noticed the advert, the job, and they put my name forward and I got the job, do you know what I mean? And they said, 'Although it's only part time work it's something. It's something for you to have that few hours break and something for you to communicate with other people instead of sitting in the house all day with the baby, to have a conversation with other adults and get friendly and things like that.' Because I used to just sit here and talk to our baby or watch the telly with her. When she was newborn all she done was sleep, so I used to just watch the telly. But it's, it's brilliant going back to work, I love it. She was only two months when I went back to work, two or three months, two and a half months I think she was. And it was lovely, the best thing I've ever done.

Did you feel that you really missed adult conversation?

I did and I didn't. It's different when it's your family, isn't it, because you can't talk, really talk to your friends and things like that. So that I had adult conversation with my mum and that. But when my mates come round, they come round and have a little cuddle of the baby and have like a little gab, 'How you getting on?' and things like this. And then it would be, 'Oh, listen, I'm going to have to go, I've go to be somewhere' do you know what I mean? So to me really they weren't even coming round to see me. They were coming round to see the baby and to have a little cuddle. And then all of a sudden that stopped, so I don't have the conversation with my mates no more. So I really only had the conversation with my family until I got back into work and then I just went, like I got back into work, I work with five other people and them five, they're lovely, they are. They're brilliant people to get on with, they are lovely people. But I'm made up that I got the job because it give me something to do.

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