WEDDING CRASHER! Hannah was ready to walk up the aisle for her sister’s big day. But her baby had ot
The bridesmaid’s having a BABY! I wrote Hannah and Francesca’s story for Real People magazine and it’s a corker! #weddingcrasher
Opening the door, I smiled at the helium balloon bobbing up and down in front of me. Holding it was my sister Francesca and standing next to her was her six-year-old daughter Ivy, grinning like mad.
‘Come in,’ I said, confused.
We went into the living room and Francesca held up a pin.
‘You have to pop the balloon,’ she said.
‘Yes, pop it!’ Ivy giggled.
I hesitated, before taking the pin.
Ivy burst out laughing as confetti fluttered across the room, and a small scroll fell onto the floor. I unravelled it and read the words inside.
Will you be my bridesmaid?
‘Well, will you?’ Francesca asked.
‘Of course!’ I said.
We hugged and I was already excited to stand in the church alongside my sister, as she exchanged her vows with her fiancé Phillip, 31. I was honoured I was going to be part of their special day.
The wedding was booked for June 2018, so there was exactly a year to plan and get Francesca and Phillip’s day just right.
But four months later, my period was late.
Surely not? I thought.
Sitting in the bathroom, I gazed at the test and watched a blue cross appear in the little window.
My eyes welled with tears.
My partner Lee, 31, and I had been trying for a baby for quite some time and I was beginning to think it might never happen.
I walked into the bedroom and woke him up.
‘I think I’m pregnant,’ I said.
Lee got out of bed and looked at the test, then he threw his arms around me.
‘I can’t believe it,’ he said.
In December, when I was 13 weeks, I had a scan.
I looked at the grainy image on the screen and heard the whooshing sounds of the baby’s heart beating.
‘Everything looks fine,’ the sonographer said.
Lee and I exchanged smiles.
Then she said: ‘Your due date is the 11th June 2018.’
‘Oh no,’ I said. ‘That’s five days before Francesca’s wedding.’
‘Blimey, that’s close,’ Lee replied.
It was a relief to know the baby was OK, but I was riddled with nerves to break the news to Francesca.
I decided to tell the rest of my family first.
My parents Lesley and Patrick, two other sisters, Georgina and Charlie, and my brother Archie were all thrilled for me and Lee.
Then I couldn’t put it off any longer…
‘I’m pregnant,’ I told Francesca.
‘Congratulations!’ she said. ‘That’s amazing news. When are you due?’
‘That’s the thing…’ I said. ‘I’m due five days before your wedding.’
Francesca’s face fell and I realised I was holding my breath as I waited for her to respond.
‘You’re kidding,’ she said. ‘You better not give birth on the day. I need you there!’
‘I’m sure I won’t,’ I said. ‘I’ll probably have the baby two weeks late.’
I was sure I would be there to see her and Phillip tie the knot. After all, what were the chances of me giving birth on the actual day?
While Francesca got stuck into planning, she kept saying, ‘I bet you give birth on the wedding day.’
‘I won’t,’ came my reply every time.
She had already bought dusty pink bridesmaid dresses for me, Georgina, Charlie, and three of her friends, and I felt terrible that it wasn’t going to fit me and my bump.
I searched for a dress that was similar that would fit me but couldn’t find one that was right anywhere. Then one day, as if by magic, a maternity dress in exactly the right colour popped up on the ASOS website.
‘Perfect!’ I said.
And we exchanged it for my original dress.
Months later, in March 2018, I went on Francesca’s hen do to Bournemouth. By now I was 30 weeks pregnant and my bump was blooming, so I took on the role of photographer while the other girls scrambled up ladders and hung from zip wires at Go Ape. Luckily it wasn’t a wild hen do in terms of partying, but I was impressed with myself for staying up until midnight that night.
When my due date came around, there was still no sign of the baby, not even a twinge. I went to hospital for a sweep and back home, I kept on walking around to try and get labour started.
Then I got down on my hands and knees to clear out the kitchen cupboards, because I’d been told this might help hurry things along too.
But still nothing.
Then two nights before the wedding, my tummy started tightening.
‘It’s Braxton Hicks,’ I told Lee.
But by the next evening, at the wedding rehearsal - the night before the wedding - the tightening had become more frequent and more painful.
I knew the pains I was experiencing were definitely not Braxton Hicks. They were contractions.
At the church, one of the ushers approached me.
‘How are you doing?’ he asked.
‘I’m having a few pains, but don’t tell my sister,’ I replied.
That night, while Lee lay next to me snoozing, I didn’t get a wink of sleep. My contractions had picked up speed and every five minutes I closed my eyes and scrunched up my face to try and blot out the pain.
This is really bad timing, I thought. Stay in there a bit longer, baby.
In the morning, I took a deep breath and grabbed my phone to send Francesca a text message.
I don’t want to ring you, I’m too scared, but I had no sleep last night…
Then I went to her house and the moment I saw her, I burst into tears.
She started crying too and pulled me in for a hug. She knew exactly what was happening.
‘I’m going to make it,’ I assured her.
While I had my hair done, I had to keep stopping to take deep breaths for each contraction. Then I did my make-up and pulled on my maternity bridesmaid dress.
Suddenly, Francesca started panicking.
‘Oh no, I don’t think I have my something blue,’ she said.
‘Don’t worry, there’s often blue thread sewn into the inside of wedding dresses,’ one of the bridesmaids said.
Minutes later, Francesca slipped into her stunning ivory wedding dress with intricate beading detail.
‘You look beautiful,’ I said.
The photographer took photos of me, Francesca, the other bridesmaids and Ivy who was flower girl.
Click, click, click.
After every few shots, I had to catch my breath as the pain went straight through my back. I couldn’t stop crying.
‘Are you sure you’re alright?’ Mum said.
‘I’ll be fine,’ I said.
But really, I was in agony. I stuck on a brave face but could barely stand up half the time. My sisters and parents kept on at me to go to hospital.
‘I’m not going,’ I said. ‘I’m coming with you to the church.’
Still the contractions worsened and started coming every three minutes. Then when I went to the bathroom, I had a ‘show’ and knew birth was imminent.
At 12:45pm, we were about to leave for the church when Francesca put a hand on my arm and looked me in the eye.
‘You need to go,’ she said.
My eyes sprang with tears and I nodded.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I said.
‘Don’t be,’ she replied. ‘Go and have that baby.’
Mum called Lee and he came to pick me up.
When he got there he just looked at me and smiled and helped me into the car before we set off for the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.
‘Slow down!’ I cried as we drove over bumps.
Then I had another contraction.
‘Go faster!’ I said.
When we finally arrived, Lee helped me walk onto the maternity ward and the look on the midwives’ faces was priceless.
‘You’re the best dressed couple we’ve had here!’ one said.
I had almost forgotten I was all glammed up.
We were led to a room where I was examined.
‘You’re four centimetres dilated,’ the midwife said.
During labour, I thought of how Francesca would be at the church, walking down the aisle. I was gutted I couldn’t be there, but I was glad we had managed to get some photos taken together.
Now I had to focus on my baby.
Hours of gas and air and deep breathing later, I gave birth to a boy, Alfie, at 7:09pm.
As I cradled him in my arms, I gazed at his tiny features.
‘He’s perfect,’ I said.
Minutes later, I messaged my family to tell them the news.
The wedding guests were outside enjoying evening drinks when Mum announced to them all that I’d given birth.
‘It’s a boy!’ she cried.
And everyone cheered.
The next day, the newlyweds came to meet their new nephew.
‘I can’t believe he tried to steal the limelight!’ Francesca joked.
I’d not known if I was having a girl or boy and we decided my surprise boy Alfie could be her ‘something blue’.
Now he is 21 weeks old (at time of writing this copy - his DOB: 16/06/2018) and I’m absolutely loving motherhood.
I’m so disappointed I missed Francesca’s wedding, but Alfie was obviously keen to get an invite too!
Hannah Newell, 26, Bicester, Oxford
Francesca Cox, 30, says: ‘It was such good news to hear Hannah was pregnant, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit annoyed - I just wished she could have been due a month earlier or later, because I didn’t want her to miss out on the day.
When she was in labour on the morning of the wedding, I still thought she might make it to the church, but when her contractions kept coming thick and fast, I knew it wasn’t meant to be.
I had to tell her to go to hospital. If I hadn’t, I think she would have waddled down the aisle and probably given birth there and then!
Despite Hannah and Lee not being there, Phillip and I had a lovely day and when Mum announced they’d had the baby it was a relief to know everything had gone well.
Right from the start, I was convinced Hannah would give birth on the wedding day, and I was right! Alfie will always be known as the baby that crashed the wedding and I’ll be sure to tell him all about it when he’s older. In fact, I won’t let him forget it!’