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Interview 17

Age at interview: 23
Brief Outline: Single mother of two. First child born by emergency caesarean, second by elective caesarean. Faced unhelpful assumptions because she was young and single.
Background: Children' 2, aged 4 and 16 months at time of interview. Occupations' Mother- childcare worker. Marital status' single. Ethnic background' White British.

More about me...

 

She was upset that the midwife at the booking visit assumed she might want a termination because...

She was upset that the midwife at the booking visit assumed she might want a termination because...

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That, it was difficult because I was single, there was an automatic assumption that I, there was a decision to make on whether I keep the baby or not, which to me, there wasn't, there wasn't really. At least I hadn't told anybody else there was. When the midwife came round to, for my first booking in my home, she actually commented on, 'Am I wasting my time being here? Are you going to actually keep this baby?' Which I found really, really difficult because I'd made no, no reference to having a termination or anything like that. I had, I had no intentions of it. So her attitude, presumably because I was single, because I'm young, was that, 'Am I going to get rid of it?' Which I found really difficult, actually, and it spoiled the relationship between me and my midwife for the rest of the pregnancy.

Did you ever say anything to her about that?

No, no, I'm not the type of person to, I just, I let that go, I didn't say anything about that.

But you say it made the relationship with your midwife difficult for the rest of the pregnancy?

Yeah, yeah, it made, it made it difficult because she's obviously, to, to me that means she's got a view in her mind of who I am and the type of person I am and so I found it difficult to relax with her and be comfortable with her and be myself with her.

 

She felt the midwife was judging her ability to be a good mother and never felt comfortable with...

She felt the midwife was judging her ability to be a good mother and never felt comfortable with...

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You said that your relationship with the midwife was sort of spoiled by her assuming that you'd want to have a termination because you were young and single and pregnant. Can you describe to me what it was like having to be cared for by her, given that situation?

Well, it, it was difficult. After, after my midwife had done this assumption of having the termination and asked if I needed a social worker, you know, I'm a very competent, capable Mum, well I think I am, anyway [laughing]. And to, for her to be assuming like that, because I was on my own and young, made it difficult for her care of me the rest of the pregnancy because, like I say, I didn't feel comfortable. I didn't feel comfortable with her because I felt like she'd, she'd judged me and I wanted to be confident and happy in my pregnancy and, you know, it just, it just meant that I couldn't really open up to her. If I had difficulties, I feel if I was, I was finding, finding difficulties, I didn't want to go to her because I'd, you know, I didn't want to reinforce what she'd thought, that I was perhaps, discovered to be struggling because I was in my situation.

Was there anybody else that you could go to for advice and support?

I've got lots of friends and family that have been fantastic so in, in one respect, to be honest with you, second, second time round, this pregnancy, I wasn't too bothered, actually, by the whole health care thing because my family and friends were fantastic, so. And the, towards the end of the pregnancy I was taken, my care was taken over by a consultant because of the problems I had at the end of the pregnancy so I didn't see that much of her in the end so it was okay.

 

She found antenatal classes embarrassing, especially as she did not have a partner to go with.

She found antenatal classes embarrassing, especially as she did not have a partner to go with.

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Did you, did you go to any sort antenatal classes or anything like that?

I went to some, some birth preparation classes with my first pregnancy. But with my second I knew I was going to have an elective caesarean anyway so I didn't bother with that one, no.

The first time round did you find the classes helpful?

I didn't find the classes helpful for the birth prep. because I found them embarrassing, actually. I don't, [sigh] when I was actually in labour I'd forgotten all of it. I'd forgotten when to breathe in, when to breathe out, I was just sort screaming blue murder, just in so much pain, so I didn't really remember any of it. I didn't find them particularly helpful.

Are you able to say what was embarrassing about them?

The funny, it was a bit embarrassing because of all the funny positions you've got to get in and also, I suppose it made me feel a bit awkward that everybody was there with their partners. Everybody had taken their husbands along and there's me, my mother, my sister [laughing] and I, I think it drew a lot of attention, yet again, to the fact that I was single and young. Seeing all these couples here and then there's, you know, me with my, my sister and my Mum that it just sort of drew attention to me, I felt.

Were people sort of awkward or unpleasant with you about that or was it more a feeling that you had?

People weren't awkward with me, it was more a feeling that I had. It was more, it was more me worrying about what they were thinking inside. I don't worry about what people think of me any more because I, I do my best for my children and I've learned that's all you can do and you make the best of your situation. But I did used to worry a lot about what people thought of me because, obviously, when I fell pregnant with my first daughter I wasn't going to be in that situation. I was engaged to be married and, and everything was planned out perfectly. And to be in this situation I was in, it, it took a bit of getting used to. And it wasn't until I was in this situation that I accepted, actually, that I'm no different being a Mum than anybody else; I try my best and, hopefully, it will be good enough.

 

She was scared of having a baby boy because of past abuse by a man, but when she saw him on the...

She was scared of having a baby boy because of past abuse by a man, but when she saw him on the...

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I was, I was abused as a child and have a, have issues about men and it was very difficult because I had a little girl already. I was, I was petrified, actually, that I'd, I'd have a baby boy and I wouldn't love it, that I would hate it. On the day of my 20 week scan I was, I was saying in the morning, 'I don't know what I'm going to do, I'm so scared they're going to tell me it's a baby boy. I don't know what I'm going to do; I'm not going to be able to cope.' And during my scan I got to know this baby, he was lovely. It, this baby kicking about on the screen and then it came to sex of the baby and she said, 'Would you like to know the sex?' So I said, 'Yes.' And my sister was with me at the time and so she zoomed down and in this, in his little true male character [laughing] opened his legs and there, there it was. And it was just so funny the way he did it and my sister looked at me as though I was about to cry but it was, it was fine from then on, it was fine. But that, that was actually a huge issue, a huge, huge thing. Not many people understand it at all; very few people understand it.

So what made it okay, because you did have a little boy?

Yeah.

What was the moment where you realised, I'm going to have a little boy and it's okay?

I think I fell in love with him while I was having the scan. I think I just fell in love with him and I, I just thought, it doesn't matter. He's so gorgeous, you know, you see their face and, and you, you kind of see a personality shine through those scans and during the scan it just came across that it didn't matter at all. And I was actually quite proud that I was going to have this little boy in the end but it was, it was, you know, it was ruining the pregnancy, the fear of having a boy which, like I say, not, not many people understand.

 

She caught 'slapped cheek' syndrome (parvovirus) and was monitored carefully in case it affected...

She caught 'slapped cheek' syndrome (parvovirus) and was monitored carefully in case it affected...

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When I was pregnant with my son I was a child-minder and I came, I realised that one of the children that I was child-minding had something, the common name is slapped cheek where children have very bright red cheeks and it's, it's a virus but, and it's not particularly harmful to children but I found out myself that it's harmful to pregnant women. When I went to the doctors the, just for a bit of reassurance, the doctor actually had never heard [laughing] of this slapped cheek, which I'd found out about myself. So she contacted somebody else and found out and - very borderline but they, they tested me for it anyway and discovered that I had had this, they called slapped cheek which is, I think the proper name is parvovirus. So I had to be monitored, initially every 3 days I had to have my baby scanned, growth scans because, apparently, if the baby contracts the illness it could cause severe anaemia which can affect the growth. And the worst case scenario, obviously the worst case scenario is that you'd lose the baby, I think that's very rare. But beside from that, what may have happened was I may have had to have a blood transfusion through my womb, which was actually really frightening, the thought of that possibly happening. But as it turned out, I, they, they scanned me for quite a long time at the end of the pregnancy and the baby was fine. But that, that was worrying, the thought of having surgery through the womb was a frightening thing.

So you did have the virus?

I did, I had the virus but it didn't seem to have been passed on to the baby.

 

An elective caesarean for her second baby was a happier experience than the emergency caesarean...

An elective caesarean for her second baby was a happier experience than the emergency caesarean...

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By that time the epidural had worn off so they had to knock me out and it was all a bit distressing. And, obviously, I was knocked out so I don't know this part but my Mum says that when she born, she was actually not breathing, they had to revive her. She had an Apgar score of 2 which, I think a normal Apgar score is 10 on a new-born baby when they score points for. So it was very, very close as to whether she made it. So, and because she'd poohed inside, she spent 3 days in special care because she'd, she'd actually swallowed it and it had gone down on to her lungs. So she, so she was in special care for 3 days, which was also difficult because when you have the baby and they're taken into special care, it's almost like they're not your baby because you're allowed to come in and visit the baby and touch the baby but it's the, the carers in that, on that ward that are actually looking after your new-born baby which, which was quite difficult. And I didn't feel I was very well informed on what was going on with her and why they were doing everything they were doing. And I found it quite upsetting, so. And the second time round, the whole, the whole thought of going through that again, it was just too much for me so I persuaded them that elective caesarean would be best; they weren't entirely happy about that, though.

What were the reasons that you were given for not having an elective caesarean?

They said they, they didn't want to give me a second elective caesarean because, you know, obviously, obviously it's healthier to give birth naturally. The recovery is better, there's less of a risk, it's less expensive on the NHS, presumably, was, would be an issue. You know, and, and obviously, it's the natural way and it's major surgery, obviously, which they'd like to avoid. But weighing up the risks in my own mind, of going through what I went through before and of, of possibly losing my child like I nearly did the first time, I wasn't prepared to risk that. I wouldn't be able to cope with that so my midwife thought it was the best thing for me to have an elective caesarean but the consultants wanted me to go for a natural delivery. But I am glad I stuck to my guns because my second child, the birth was fantastic. I actually had an elective caesarean for - you know, I've known people that are really worried about it. It's the most amazing experience. |It was, it was lovely and I can't praise the people enough. It was such a good experience.

Tell me more about what happened and why it was so good?

Well, I, going in for my caesarean that was, was elective, I knew, I knew the date to go in and I turned up and everyone was very casual. I had, at the time, actually, I have a very bad needle phobia, which is not good when you're going to have a needle this long in your back. So I went in and they, they were very relaxing, they were so kind and they, once, once they'd, you know, once it was planned that I was going to have a caesarean, there was no more talk of, should I or shouldn't I? It was just, "That's what you're going to do" and they were great about helping me overcome my fear. And you, and I went into the theatre and everyone was laughing and joking and talking about the baby and it took away from my fear completely. And they, they were just fantastic and you felt like you knew them really well because they were, they were just so lovely and you wouldn't want a nicer bunch to be with you when your baby was born. And the experience of, of being there and seeing the baby lifted out, it was amazing because I was knocked out for my first pregnancy so it was the first time I'd seen one of my children being born and it was lovely. And I would, I don't know, to anyone I would say, just, you know, it's not something to worry about. It w
 

Her advice to other young, single mothers is to make the most of their time with their children...

Her advice to other young, single mothers is to make the most of their time with their children...

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Is there any advice that you would offer other young single women who are pregnant and who may be in the same position to the one that you were in?

Okay. If I could give advice to other people that were young and pregnant like I was, I would say, enjoy it, forget what everybody else says, you've got to enjoy your kids. You're never going to have that time again and you don't want to miss out on the time, but you can offer them everything. You know, I've got 2 very happy, healthy children, you know, although I'm single, I don't have a job and I'm young, but you'll, you'll always have a roof and you'll always have money and the main thing is to enjoy them, make the most of them and not worry about what you can't give them; think about what you can give them.

Like I say, mine are, they're lovely kids and everyone would say that. And just don't worry about what people think. I've given up worrying about what people think, because I've got to know so many people through toddler groups, and the toddler group I go to is mostly older, older, professional mums and I've gone in there very confident, whereas a lot of them are really not confident. And I've found that some of them are now my best friends and they'll come to me for advice, and being a mum, I don't think it's got anything to do with your age or your situation, because it's completely alien. It's not something that you can learn at college or you can learn over the years; you're a mum when you're a mum, and I don't think it makes, actually, much odds. You've just got to have the confidence to believe in yourself and what you're doing.

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