‘You should consider carefully how you wish to spend what time you might have left with James.’
When a mother faces the ultimate threat - the suffering and potential loss of her child - every human resource kicks in, including her faith. A Life Less Lost charts the author’s journey through white coats, misdiagnoses, endless appointments and more. KB Walker connects stories from her American childhood to the traumas that face her very English family to explain the hope that helps her hold her life together.
Here's an excerpt:
Wednesday 29 October 1980
‘Gmmn.’ The sound of my own groan is enough to shove me through the bits of dream and sleep fog into wakefulness. Yuck, I’m wet. I’ve wet the bed!
I hurry into our tiny bathroom, disgusted and alarmed. The last time I wet a bed was pre-memory. I don’t understand what’s happening. I’ve been unwell all weekend, achy and weary, but that can’t be it. My first antenatal class will be tonight. The baby isn’t due for six and a half more weeks. I’m frightened.
‘Howard,’ I call from the toilet, ‘something’s wrong. I’ve wet the bed and can’t stop weeing.’
‘You mucky cow,’ he says. The bed creaks. ‘It’s not even six o’clock.’ I hear his head flop back down onto the pillow.
‘Could you phone the hospital to find out what we should do?’ I ask.
‘I’m not going to tell someone my wife can’t stop weeing!’
I dribble down our narrow stone stairs and phone myself.
‘It sounds like your waters have broken,’ the nurse tells me. ‘An ambulance is on the way.’
My repentant husband is suddenly wide awake and rushing about like any new father in a television sit-com. I dress and run a comb through my wild hair. I’m still leaking.
It takes ages for the ambulance to arrive. We live in an old cottage, in a remote village, on the edge of the hospital’s catchment area. The driver suggests Howard lead the way because of his knowledge of the winding country lanes.
Howard speeds off then has to stop and wait for the ambulance, which won’t travel much faster than 30 miles an hour for fear of hastening the arrival of the baby. I waddle into the hospital and the soggy seat of my maternity dress slaps against the back of my legs. I feel like a child that’s had an accident in class. The doctor examines me and says I’m not in labour and it could be another week but I will have to stay in hospital. He sends Howard off to work.
They’re very busy in the maternity ward so I’m put in a bare, little side room on my own. The muscles across my huge bump may not be contracting but I’m struggling with excruciating back pain. I alternate between worrying about the baby and the fact that I don’t know how to relax yet. We’re supposed to learn that at antenatal class, tonight.
I try to think about how much I’ve loved being pregnant, couldn’t wait to ‘show’. Howard and I were both keen that we did everything to help our baby have a good start in life. Neither of us smoked anyway but we cut out alcohol and Howard encouraged me to drink plenty of milk and eat spinach and liver (which I hate).
All the way through my pregnancy I felt I was a month further along than my dates or the doctor indicated. Ultrasound was relatively new and not standard practice. The signposts I read about in the baby books appeared to happen earlier than they should. But you assume doctors know best.
To squash down my rising fear and pain, I try to recall funny things that happened. Like the fact that a couple of my older colleagues at work guessed I was pregnant before I did, when I went off tea and coffee. At least my cravings weren’t too bizarre, family sized tins of rice pudding usually satisfied.
Howard looked younger than his twenty four years, probably due to good health and his golden curls. I remember how upset he was, one day, whilst in the local sandwich shop near where he worked. The woman on the till had asked him when the baby was due and the customer behind almost dropped her shopping.
‘How old are you? she squeaked.
‘Well, how old do you think I am?’ he replied, quite unprepared for her revelation that she thought he was only fifteen.
I found it hilarious and assured him he would be very grateful when he was forty-five and looked thirty-five.
James survived and, for £6.99, this inspiring memoir is available from firstname.lastname@example.org and from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.