‘Behind the scenes’: Stories of grandmothering in the neonatal intensive care unit. An autoethnographic, narrative study
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AbstractThis study is concerned with listening to the stories of grandmothers who had a critically ill grandchild in a neonatal intensive care unit. There is a wealth of research on the parents of premature or sick babies, but the parents’ parents are an ignored area in nursing and midwifery literature. In July 2013, my grandson was born seven weeks early and became very unwell on day two of life. This left me questioning what stories other grandmothers would have to tell of having a sick grandchild. As a neonatal nurse, midwife and educator by profession, I felt a duty to explore this neglected area further. Using my own autoethnographic experience as a grandmother as a basis for this study, I interviewed five grandmothers in two inner city neonatal intensive care units in the West Midlands. My position as a grandmother/researcher with my specialist professional antecedents adds a unique insider perspective in this research. Uniquely, I used a theme board to enable me to tell my own story, which then facilitated grandmothers to tell me their own story. From the rich data generated from those narratives, and to allow their stories to breathe, I crafted fictional stories as one stage of the analytical process. A hybrid methodology of performance autoethnography and narrative approaches has been used to explore this hard-to-reach group of women who are silenced when their grandchild is unwell and being cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit. Continuing with a crafts-based analysis, a bricolage of grandmothers’ stories was sewn together creating a patchwork quilt of their words. Their stories tell of ‘getting there’, ‘getting in’ and ‘staying in’. What I discovered was that grandmothers act quietly ‘behind the scenes’, restricted by a ‘border of technology as a barrier’ and emerge as ‘silent heroines’. What grandmothers’ stories tell have the potential to alter the way in which they are seen in the neonatal intensive care unit. I make recommendations for changes in policy and practice to allow these silent heroines to have a voice.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements on the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of the Professional Doctorate in Health and Wellbeing.
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