A year ago this week, my friend posted a photo on her facebook page that made me chuckle. It was this shot, obviously taken inside a hospital:
I assumed she was visiting someone and just being funny. It wasn’t until later that I found out she’d become an aunt that day. Lovely, right? And special. The more special part, however, was the fact that she had no idea she was going to become an aunt at all. Much like her Mum had no idea she was to become a grandmother again. And amazingly enough, her sister, Kim, didn’t know she was going to be a mother ever, let alone that day when she went to the doctor feeling bloody awful. Diagnosis? Labour. Oh, by the way, Kim- you’re pregnant!
Infertility and a Family.
In her mid-20s, Kim Walsh was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and told she wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally. Although this was a huge blow to her and her husband, Anthony, they didn’t let it it stop them from making a family for themselves. Over the years they have been Mum and Dad to Myscheif, The Rock, Bear, Bella, Charade, Gyzmo, Copper, Birdy Bird, Bart, Axle, Buddy and Beaker. That’s a Rottweiler, 3 German Shepherds, 3 cats, 4 cockatiels and a Rainbow Lorikeet. I’m not listing the fish!
Were there any changes?
I asked Kim if she noticed any changes or anything unusual at all during what she now knows was her pregnancy. Kim told me that she had gained a little weight, but put it down to general stress. “Being busy at work and coming home to cook quick, easy meals that aren’t always the healthiest foods.” It was easy enough to explain away, and weight gain around the waist is a common symptom of PCOS. Another is that periods can be quite irregular, so missing them wasn’t all that big a deal and when you’ve been told you can’t fall pregnant, it makes sense that it might not even occur to you. In Kim’s case, she could go months at a time with no menstruation at all, followed by pretty terrible pain as a precursor to her period.
Even so, no symptoms at all?
Kim recalls that she’d gone off drinking soft drinks for several months except for one night when she drank a bottle of coke while out with friends. Later than night in bed, she was snuggled up to her husband, Anthony, when they both felt a funny sensation- her tummy moved. They laughed it off as nothing more than some pretty serious wind. Kim described it as just that- air bubbles, moving around. In hindsight, it’s much more likely that someone was trying to make her presence known!
On the Sunday, Kim started to experience menstrual cramps. Very painful periods aren’t unusual for Kim- it’s almost a trade off. She might not have a menstrual period for months, but her body kindly stores up the cramps and has them all at once to make up for it. When she awoke on the Monday morning, the pain was still there and she was feeling pretty ordinary, so she took the day off work. At one point, she got up to go to the bathroom and didn’t quite make it. Not knowing quite what to make of this, Kim surmised that she might have a urinary tract infection on top of the menstrual pains. She rang her husband who said he’d be home as soon as he could to take her to the doctor.
At the Doctor’s Office.
Once at the doctor’s office, Kim went in alone while her husband waited outside. Initially, the doctor thought it may well be a urinary infection and asked for a sample to test. He asked the nurse to add in a pregnancy test, just to be sure. When the results were positive, Kim was shocked and reminded them both that she couldn’t get pregnant. The doctor sat her down and explained that she needed to get to the hospital without delay and that perhaps an ambulance was the best option. Kim let him know that Anthony was waiting outside and would take her. Then came the next surreal moment for Kim that day- she was having quite a few of them!
Telling the Family.
Kim made her way out to the car to tell her husband that he was going to be a father. Not in a matter of months but in a matter of hours. His initial reaction was understandable- disbelief. Until she held out her positive pregnancy test. Thankfully, instead of doing this:
Anthony calmly asked what they needed to do and drove Kim to hospital. Kim says he’s always been her rock and in this moment he was no different, despite how his head must have been spinning. On the way to the hospital, they called Kim’s mum, who thought it was a joke. She took a bit of convincing and then tried hard not to cry as she asked if it was okay for her to get excited. A still reeling Kim told her she wasn’t sure yet.
On arrival at the hospital, the triage nurse witnessed a contraction before immediately transferring Kim to the labour ward. Once there, Anthony began phoning the rest of the family and close friends who all responded with disbelief, excitement and overwhelming support.
While in the labour ward, Kim’s progress was monitored. The baby’s heart rate was faltering with each contraction and a decision was made to give Kim an emergency c-section. To give you an idea of how rapidly all this happened, look at the title above- it was 2 pm when Kim found out she was pregnant and 4:30 pm when her daughter was delivered. The cord had been wrapped around her neck and a c-section saw all 3.6 kg of healthy baby girl safely delivered. Can you imagine the emotions? The joy of the pregnancy, the pain and then the fear when a c-section was needed. Kim says: “I know it’s a cliche, but you really do fall in love the second you see them. The relief when I heard her cry and saw her was my second biggest emotion.”
Having a baby, whether it is your first or your third, is always going to be a life-changer. No matter how well prepared you are. When you’re completely unprepared and become a parent, life is just that bit more challenging. Luckily, family and friends rallied around Kim, Anthony and baby Shelby. Kim knows she couldn’t have done it without their support, from the huge number of congratulations and well wishes to the practical offers of baby goods and clothes. A year on, Shelby has definitely fit right in with the family, getting along with her “siblings” from the start:
The story of Shelby’s birth was national news when it happened but I thought it was definitely worth re-telling today, because today is Shelby’s birthday. This little miracle is now a year old!
Writing this, I have tried to put myself in Kim’s shoes. I can’t even begin to imagine how astonishing it must have been. To live your life thinking pregnancy wasn’t ever going to happen, only to experience the joy of discovering you are pregnant. That’s one thing, and it would have been overwhelming enough. To go from that to holding a baby in just a couple of hours- overwhelming doesn’t even cover it. I’m not a religious person by any stretch but there is no other way to describe Shelby’s arrival as anything but a blessing to this family.
Happy Birthday, gorgeous girl!
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess