Posted by on Friday, 12 March 2010


I haven't mentioned before that when I was born I was lactose intolerant. Actually it was more than just lactose, it was also glucose, sucrose and fructose according to my Mother, though she does have a tendency to exaggerate. A nightmare for any parent, I squirted everything that was fed to me, very efficiently, out of both ends, gradually shrinking, until eventually a doctor realised my Mum wasn't just one of those panicky ones, and I was popped back into hospital in the nick of time, diagnosed (incorrectly as it later turned out) and fed some amazing milk substitute, which made me inflate into an enormous toddler at twice the normal rate.

I was told I had galactosaemia, which I didn't because you cannot grow out of that, and I did grow out of mine, by the time I was six. I shamelessly used my dubious medical condition for years afterwards, to get me out of eating various items on the school dinner menu that I just didn't fancy.

When I became pregnant with our first daughter Ellen, I diligently filled in all the forms and answered all the questions and watched the midwife's shoulders slump with dispair as I listed Mike's diabetes and my own medical history. I remember her looking quite bewildered, possibly an 'I could do without this' expression on her face. I think that was the first time a worst case scenario flashed through my mind. Up until then I had been more worried about the possibility that it might be twins, my Mum being an identical twin, and it having already done the 'miss a generation' thing.

The first thing she said was that a home birth was out of the question and that tests would need to be done once the baby was born before I could take her home. She suggested I ring the special baby unit to try to find out more, and prepare them (presumably for what I was about to put them through). It's impossible to prepare someone for something you can't identify. I was misdiagnosed, I, to this day, don't know what I had, the special baby unit was stumped.

Mike and I made it our mission to find out everything we could about what to expect if our baby emerged with either or both of our illnesses, and the knowledge did help. We felt we'd regained a bit of control over the situation, and that kept us calm.

I was very lucky, I had a wonderful pregnancy, everything went smoothly, I went all curvy (which I loved) and my hair looked great! Ellen decided to join us on her due date, but then changed her mind, then thought maybe she would, or maybe not, but thought it might be nice, but wasn't sure. She arrived 42 hours later and hasn't been able to make a quick decision since. Ellen weighed in at 8lb 1oz, took one look at me and settled in for a good feed. I thought, jolly good, she's fine, and every worry disappeared. I knew she was fine.

The nurses required scientific proof. If you have ever tried getting a urine sample from a new born baby, you probably won't be surprised that it wasn't until three days later, Ellen and I were finally released from hospital with a clean bill of health.

Second time around I neglected to mention our medical histories, maybe that was foolhardy, but I was convinced I would know if there was a problem, and I didn't want to be stuck in hospital for another three days, I wanted to be at home with Ellen. Beth popped out quite decisively and weighed in at an impressive 9lb. Ellen arrived to visit a few hours later, and greeted her new baby sister by coughing in her face. You have to smile.


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