When my belly ballooned I was finally diagnosed with IBS. Then a miracle happened…
By Alison Dent, 45, from Darlington
Clutching the phone in my hand, I took a deep breath and sunk into the sofa. ‘Are you sitting down?’ asked my daughter Kylie, then 24, on the other end of the line.
‘What is it, Kylie? What’s the matter?’ I urged.
‘I’ve got some news… I’m pregnant,’ she told me, after a long pause. I was going to be a grandma.
I was stunned. I’d been just 19 myself when Kylie had come along. Living at home with my parents, Kylie’s dad wasn’t in the picture.
It didn’t matter though. Four months later, I met Robert and he took little Kylie on as his own.
My little family may have been unconventional, but it was perfect. In time, we moved in together and settled into family life.
But when Kylie was a year old, I woke up in what looked like a scene from a horror movie.
‘Robert, call the doctor!’ I cried, when I woke up one morning covered in blood. I wasn’t in any pain but the sheets were drenched. It was a massive bleed.
It was a month before I finally got an appointment, where tests revealed I had abnormal cells on my cervix.
‘We need to remove part of your cervix,’ a doctor explained. ‘It’s a simple, routine operation – we’ll just give you a local anaesthetic.’
I was awake throughout the op and it only took an hour – but in that hour, my life changed forever.
Because after that, my periods stopped – and never returned.
‘I don’t understand, what’s going on?’ I begged doctors at endless appointments. Truth was, no one could give me a straight answer.
I was infertile… and it was ‘just one of those things.’
Robert and I assumed we had years ahead of us to have a family together but now, it was too painful to discuss.
There was no point, our baby dream was over. I felt bad for Robert but we threw ourselves into bringing up Kylie, and creating a happy and healthy home for her.
Life went on and I forced myself to put any thoughts of another baby to the back of my mind. Before I knew it, more than two decades had flown by and Kylie was phoning me to tell me I was going to be a granny.
Slowly, shock gave way to happiness.
‘I can’t pretend it’s not a surprise,’ I told her. ‘But that’s wonderful news, love.’
When Kylie told us she was expecting a baby girl, Robert and I were overjoyed. A granddaughter was everything I could have wanted.
But I was just getting my head round the fact that Kylie was going to be a mummy when I began to get some tummy trouble.
‘I just feel so bloated,’ I told Robert, rubbing my swollen belly.
I went to the doctors and two months after Kylie’s pregnancy announcement, in March 2013, I was diagnosed with IBS.
‘We’ll prescribe you some medication, it should ease your symptoms,’ the doctor explained. But nothing worked.
My belly continued to bloat and my ankles swelled and my breasts grew sore too. ‘I can even feel a sort of fluttering movement inside my tummy,’ I told the doctor.
‘That will be trapped wind,’ he explained. ‘It’s part of your IBS I’m afraid.’
I was back and forth to the doctors when the medication didn’t seem to have any effect. ‘I’m worried,’ I confessed to Robert. ‘I’m in pain and the treatment’s not working.’
So when Kylie gave birth to little Caseylee in July 2013, it was a welcome distraction. ‘She’s beautiful, just like her mummy,’ I smiled at Kylie in the delivery ward.
Being there as my granddaughter came into the world was an amazing, emotional experience, but even as I cradled Caseylee in my arms, I couldn’t help but worry.
My belly was still really swollen and I had no idea what was wrong with me. Would I be around to see my precious granddaughter grow up?
Over the next couple of months, I was on hand to help Kylie with her newborn. I’d go over to hers most mornings and would even have Caseylee overnight for a couple of nights a week to give Kylie a break.
But in October, I was rushed to hospital with abdominal pain.
A friendly nurse took one look at my big belly and smiled: ‘Come on, let me take you to the maternity ward.’
A look of horror must have crossed my face but I tried to make light of it. ‘I’m a granny – and I haven’t had a period in 26 years,’ I told her. ‘There’s no way I’m pregnant. No chance.’
After a series of scans and a procedure where a camera was fed down my throat, a grim-faced doctor delivered the news I’d been dreading.
‘We think it’s a cyst,’ he said solemnly.
Immediately, I panicked. ‘Well, what can you tell me? Is it a tumour? Is it cancer?’
‘We don’t know,’ was his honest answer. ‘We can’t rule anything out at this stage. We won’t know more until we’ve done more tests.’
I was terrified when I went home that night and began to fear the worst. Doctors couldn’t confirm it wasn’t cancerous. Was I going to die?
The next day I was sent for a scan. I took a deep breath as the nurse rubbed the cold jelly over my belly and moved the scanner around my bump.
‘Are you prepared for this?’ she asked me.
Oh God, what was it…?
‘What do you mean?’ I managed to stutter. ‘Do you want the good news or the bad news?’ she went on.
I couldn’t bear it. ‘Please, whatever it is, just tell me.’
‘Ok, well, it’s not a cyst… it’s a baby.’
My jaw fell open with shock as her words hung, heavy in the air. Pregnant? How could I be pregnant? It didn’t make sense.
‘No, you must have made some sort of mistake,’ I stammered. ‘I’m in my 40s, I haven’t had a period in 26 years. I’ve just become a grandma for goodness’ sake. You must be looking at another patient’s scan.’
The nurse laughed softly. ‘It’s no mistake,’ she told me. ‘You’re having a little boy – and he’s due in eight weeks.’
I was stunned then. I was 32 weeks pregnant and I’d had no idea. I didn’t have a deadly cyst or even IBS – my swollen stomach was an Incredible Baby Surprise!
I still hadn’t got my head round the news myself when I phoned Robert from the hospital. ‘What is it, love? What’s wrong?’ he asked me.
‘I’m pregnant,’ I blurted. ‘We’re having a little boy.’ He thought I was having him on. ‘What, in four or five months?’ he asked when I’d finally convinced him I was telling the truth.
‘No, in eight weeks’ time!’ I replied.
The pair of us were in a daze for days as the news slowly sunk in. Of course it was a relief to know it wasn’t something more sinister but the last thing I’d been expecting was a baby.
Were we ready to become parents at our time of life? Robert was 53!
Our beautiful son, Bobby Charles, was born in December 2013 – six months after my granddaughter, Caseylee, had arrived.
‘I can’t believe it,’ Kylie grinned when Bobby was born in the same delivery suite where Caseylee had come into the world. ‘He’s my little brother.’
I couldn’t believe it either. After everything I’d been through, I’d become a gran and a mum in the space of a few months.
Now, I’ve never been happier. I thought I was dying – instead, I got this little cutie!
Alison wanted to share her happy baby surprise so came to us to sell her story. We placed her story in two magazines and on various news websites. Have a look at our guide to selling a story to find out how you could share your story with the press too.