I'd been like Sleeping Beauty, the someone granted my wish...
Curled up on the sofa, I took a deep breath as yet another wave of pain crashed across my belly.
Gritting my teeth, I tried to endure the agony – but it felt as though a vice was being tightened around my stomach.
At that moment, my daughter Megan, two, skipped into the room, her Cinderella doll in one hand, Ariel the mermaid in the other.
‘Princess tea party!’ she sang.
‘Sorry, darling,’ I winced. ‘Mummy’s not feeling well.’
As she left the room, guilt flooded over me. It would have been different if she had a little brother or sister to play with….
When me and my brothers Christopher, 27, and Martin, 24, were little, we could get so involved in a game of snakes and ladders we’d forget Mum was even there most of the time!
A sibling was something I really wanted for Megan. In fact, it was something me and my hubby Stephen, 27, had been working on. Or at least we had until a month earlier when these crippling stomach pains had started….
At first, I’d thought they were just bad period pains, but now I was getting very concerned.
After visiting my doctor the next day, I was sent for an ultrasound.
‘Your gall bladder’s rotting,’ he told me.
‘Will I be okay?’ I gasped.
‘You’ll be fine,’ he reassured me. ‘You just need a simple operation to remove it.’
A week before the op, though, I collapsed at home. Leaving Megan with my mum Elaine, 54, Stephen rushed me to hospital.
‘We need to remove your gall bladder immediately,’ the doctor said.
Coming round from the operation, the pain in my tummy was just as bad as ever.
‘You’ll soon feel better,’ Stephen assured me, squeezing my hand.
But four days later, the pain was even worse. I felt like I’d been run over by a steamroller, and I couldn’t stop throwing up.
‘This can’t be right,’ Stephen worried. ‘They told us it was a simple operation….’
Later that day, I was taken for another scan.
‘There have been some complications,’ the doctor said quietly. ‘The surgeon accidentally cut into a bile duct.’
‘What does that mean?’ I asked, fear beginning to rise.
‘Bile is leaking into your body,’ he said. ‘We’re going to have to drain it out.’
For the next week, doctors installed a tube into my stomach to draw the yellow liquid out of me.
I felt constantly nauseous and couldn’t keep anything down. And the pain…!
I felt like I was being poisoned. Well, I was in a way – the acidic bile was attacking all my other internal organs.
Doctors gave me morphine, but the only thing that made me forget the pain was Stephen and Megan’s daily visits.
‘Mummy’s having some yucky stuff taken out,’ I told Megan, the first time she saw the tube.
‘Okay,’ she sighed.
‘But when you’re better, can we play princesses?’
‘Of course,’ I said, as Stephen and me exchanged glances. We hated seeing Megan so fed up and alone while I was going through this. The sooner it was over, the better. Then we could think about working on a sibling for her.
The following day, though, there was more bad news.
‘The drain isn’t working,’ the doctor said. ‘We’ll have to insert another one.’
I’d only come in for a simple op. Now this…!
And as my frustration about the situation grew, so did my pain.
‘I feel like I’m dying,’ I sobbed to the doctor.
My dose of painkillers was increased, but it was no use. A week later, I was so out of it, I could only just about make out Stephen’s ghostly white face as he entered the room with the doctor one evening.
‘Kay, the drains aren’t working,’ the doctor said. ‘We need to seal up the bile duct and clean the fluid out of your body immediately.’
‘More surgery?’ I asked through my drug-induced haze.
‘If we don’t get the fluid away from your organs now, you could die,’ the doctor said, gravely. ‘As it is, you have a 50-50 chance of surviving this operation.’
50-50? Like tossing a coin? Heads I live, tails I die?
I couldn’t get my head around it.
Tears filled my eyes as Stephen squeezed my hand.
‘What if I never get to see Megan again?’ I sobbed to him.
‘It’ll be okay,’ he tried reassuring me, his voice thick with emotion.
But what if it wasn’t?
As I was wheeled down to theatre, I couldn’t stop thinking about my beautiful little girl. What if I missed her first day at school, her wedding day? What if I never got to give her the brother or sister I so desperately wanted to?
Hundreds of heartbreaking ‘what ifs’ floated around in my head, until everything faded to black…
Some time later, I came round.
‘You’re awake!’ Stephen cried.
‘The doctors had to put you in an induced coma… you’ve been out for 10 days.’
Megan had a lovely way of putting it, though. ‘You had a very long rest,’ she explained. ‘Like Sleeping Beauty.’
‘That’s right,’ I smiled. ‘But I’m much better now.’
Back home, Stephen and me started trying for a baby. But a year on, I still hadn’t fallen pregnant.
Worried, I went back to the doctor, who ran tests.
‘I’m so sorry,’ the doctor said, looking at my results. ‘The bile has damaged your ovaries… I’m afraid you’re infertile.’
‘No more children?’ I croaked, as tears pricked my eyes.
The doctor shook his head.
Pain tore into me, but this time it was grief that gripped me.
The idea that I’d never be pregnant again, never have a brother or sister for Megan… it was
I knew I was blessed to have my Megan. Some couples weren’t so lucky. But my chance of another baby had been snatched away from me. I felt empty inside.
‘What about IVF treatment?’ I whimpered.
‘It’s too much of a risk,’ the doctor sighed. ‘Your body has been through too much already.’
Later, laying on the sofa, watching Megan play alone, just reminded me of what I’d never have – what she’d never have!
For the next two years, Stephen and me grew to accept things.
‘Let’s adopt,’ I suggested.
Stephen nodded. ‘It’s not what we’d planned, but this way we’d get a brother or sister for Megan.
We got the ball rolling when, a few months later, a familiar, sharp pain ripped across my stomach.
Terrified the bile had caused further damage, I went to the doctor, who did some tests.
‘Kay, you’re pregnant!’ she said, baffled. I almost laughed out loud.
She had to be wrong, surely?!
But as she showed me the positive test, my heart soared and almost exploded with happiness.
‘How’s that possible?’ I asked.
‘A single egg must have got through,’ she beamed. ‘The odds of that happening are something like one in 30 million!’
‘A miracle!’ Stephen beamed when I told him the news.
And we haven’t stopped smiling since our son Osian, now one year old, was born.
Megan loves to rope her baby brother into playing princesses with her and, when Stephen and me watch them, we can’t believe our family’s story finally ended happily ever after.
Kay Lee, 29, Wrexham, Clwyd
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