I couldn’t wait to celebrate the most important day of my life, but then I got an unexpected visitor…
By Emily Steers, 21, from Catterick, North Yorkshire
“Are you ready yet?” my boyfriend Stephen, 24, called out to me as I pulled on my shoes and coat. He waited by the door, jingling his keys impatiently.
“Almost,” I replied. “What’s the hurry?”
“I’ve booked a table, I just want to make sure we get there on time,” he said, as he ushered me out of the house.
I rolled my eyes. We were only popping to the pub for a quiet meal to celebrate his birthday, what was the rush?
But when we got there, we were greeted by all our family and friends. And when I turned around to face Stephen, he was on one knee.
“Emily, will you marry me?” he asked, and I gasped in shock.
“Yes!” I replied, instantly. “Of course I will.”
“Great,” he grinned. “Because this is our engagement party.”
I couldn’t help letting out a squeal of surprise as everyone cheered and hugged us. As Stephen slipped a sparkling ring onto my finger, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
I first met Stephen when we were both teenagers in the Army cadets before starting a relationship four years earlier.
He proposed in December 2015 and we excitedly started planning our big day for April 2017. We wanted the works – a big church wedding with lots of guests. I couldn’t wait.
But a few weeks later, I started feeling a little queasy. At first, I put it down to too much food over the Christmas period, but when my period was late I knew something wasn’t right.
On New Year’s Day, 2016, I decided to take a pregnancy test, and when it showed up positive I stared at it in shock. I came out of the bathroom, holding the test.
“What’s wrong babe?” Stephen asked.
“I think I’m pregnant,” I replied. I couldn’t believe it. We hadn’t planned to have a baby so soon – we had only just got engaged!
But Stephen looked like he might burst with excitement.
“This is amazing,” he said. “I can’t believe I’m going to be a dad.”
I was pleased at Stephen’s reaction, but I couldn’t help feeling a little worried and unprepared.
“It’ll be great, don’t worry, ” he said, giving me a big hug. “You’ll be a brilliant mum, I know it.”
His words soon helped me warm up to the idea of becoming a mother. Although it was a shock, it meant that in nine months we would have a little bundle of joy to look forward to.
“You know this will impact on the wedding plans,” Stephen said as we sat down to work out our finances. “I’m not sure how we can afford everything, since it’s all happening at once.”
“Well why don’t just we have a smaller wedding, and bring the date forward?” I suggested.
“But you want a big celebration,” Stephen smiled. “I want you to have the wedding you’ve always dreamed of.”
He was right – but although I longed for the big princess wedding, it was more important to me that we were married before the baby was born, so I shook my head.
“I want us to be a real family,” I said. “I want to be husband and wife before the baby gets here. It’s the right thing to do, and I’ll be happy with whatever wedding we can afford. After all, there’s nothing more I want than to be your wife.”
So as my pregnancy progressed, I started planning an entirely new, more modest wedding for August 2016 – more than a month before the baby’s arrival – and invited 40 guests to celebrate our big day. I also picked out a dress which would flatter my baby bump.
Since Stephen was in the Army, he often worked away from home, so at 16 weeks, we went for a private scan to determine the sex of the baby.
“Congratulations,” the sonographer said as she surveyed the screen. “You’re having a girl.”
I was over the moon – a little girl! Stephen grinned and looked like he might cry. From that moment, it all felt really real. In just a few months, I would be a married woman – and a mum! I could barely believe my luck.
In August 2016, when I was 36-weeks pregnant, we tied the knot in front of family and friends.
The ceremony was perfect, and as I proudly posed for pictures with my new husband and my bump, I was on top of the world. Now and again I would feel a fluttering in my stomach, but I dismissed it as excited butterflies.
I had a brilliant time talking to all our guests, and each one commented on how beautiful I looked. Even though I was quite heavily pregnant, I felt like a total princess.
But an hour before our evening guests were due to arrive, I was walking towards the buffet table and suddenly felt really strange.
I looked down and realised my waters had broken. My heart stopped as I wondered what I needed to do. I stood still as a statue and called my mum over.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“I think my waters have broken,” I whispered. “I feel strange…and damp.”
I was completely confused. I’d felt no pain or contractions, but my waters had most definitely broken.
My mum whisked me into the toilet and we called Stephen to come in too.
“Stephen, I think I’m in labour,” I said quietly.
Stephen laughed, thinking I was joking, but when he saw my face he stopped.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“My waters have broken,” I replied. “I think I’m in labour. This baby is early.”
“We should get you to the hospital,” my mum said.
“But what about all the guests?” I asked. “It’s our wedding day!”
I was frantic as I thought of missing the end of my own wedding day. We hadn’t cut our cake yet, or had our first dance…
“Never mind about that – people will understand,” Stephen soothed. “You and the baby are far more important right now.”
Luckily, my waters had only broken slightly so I was able to shuffle back out and wait outside while my mum called the hospital.
But as I chatted away with guests, I suddenly felt another gush of liquid.
“Oh no, not again,” I gasped as I desperately tried to stop my dress getting wet. This baby was definitely on it’s way – despite being four weeks early!
I suddenly panicked about the idea of going into labour at my own wedding. I willed my baby girl to wait.
“Come on love,” my mum said, grabbing my arm. “Time to get you to the hospital.”
We just had enough time to grab a pair of pyjamas from the house before driving to the hospital, where a midwife examined me.
“Well, you’re definitely in labour,” she said. “The early stages, anyway.”
“But it’s my wedding day,” I moaned, as I was forced to take off my beautiful wedding dress and replace it with a hospital gown. “And it’s far too early.”
“Sorry love,” she smiled. “This baby won’t wait, I’m afraid. She’s already a little princess!”
Stephen stayed by my side as my mum had the task of telling all the guests that the wedding reception was missing a bride and groom. Everyone was really good about it – some guests even stayed on to enjoy the party!
My labour was hard – and long – it lasted a mammoth 28 hours!
At 7.40pm the next day, little Emelia came into our lives, weighing just 5lbs.
I can’t explain the huge rush of love I felt when the midwife put her onto my chest. She looked so cute wrapped up in a blanket – a proper bundle of joy.
“Hello little girl,” I whispered. “Welcome to the world.”
“She certainly chose the best time to arrive,” Stephen joked as she wrapped her fingers around his thumb. “She’s absolutely perfect.”
We were allowed to have a little bit of time in our magical bubble, cuddling up with our little girl, before doctors whisked her away to be cared for.
The midwife explained that Emilia would need a little extra care, as she was premature. We had to wait ten days until we could take her home as she was so tiny.
Now, I can’t imagine life without her. We’re planning to get hitched again, in 2020, so we can celebrate properly.
Although I missed my first dance and I never got to cut my wedding cake, Emelia was totally worth it. She’s the best wedding present I could have ever hoped for!
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