An Irish woman has opened up about the shock moment a doctor told her she was pregnant just hours before she gave birth to her first child.
Cilla Ward (29) recalled the evening in April 2011, when she woke up in the middle of the night with what she believed to be serious period pain. However as the night progressed, the searing pain down her back worsened prompting her to wake her parents who rushed her to Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital.
“I thought it was period pains but it was strange because I had just had my period the week before. I kept getting agonising pains up my spine for the whole night,” said Cilla from Coolock in Dublin.
“I was vomiting and vomiting, I thought I was dying. I went into my mam and dad’s room and begged them to take me to hospital. I knew something was really, really wrong. They were so worried, they hardly got out of their pajamas before rushing me to Beaumont.
“I was in such pain that I was seen almost straight away. My mam was so worried, she thought I was dying and kept asking the doctors if I was going to be okay,” she said.
Doctors at Beaumont Hospital were concerned about the level of pain being experienced by Cilla out of the blue and an ultrasound revealed the news that the then 23-year-old never would have expected.
“The doctor came to my bedside and brought out an ultrasound machine. After a while he smiled and I couldn’t believe it. I said to him ‘This is not a laughing matter’. He told me to listen, and asked me what I heard. ‘My heartbeat,’ I said, but he told me there were two. That not only was I pregnant, but I was in labour.
“The shock is something I’ll never be able to explain. My mam said my face went grey, and all the pain I was feeling disappeared for about 20 minutes, I was so shocked,” she said.
Throughout her pregnancy, Cilla continued to have regular periods and bleeding and did not suspect she might be pregnant from a relationship that had ended months beforehand.
Cilla, who comes from a strict Traveller background, was worried about her family’s reaction to the news, fearful that they wouldn’t support her because she became pregnant out of wedlock with a partner who was not a part of the Traveller community.
“I’m from a strict Traveller background and I’m the only girl in my family of five brothers. I was so worried about what they’d think. I had been seeing my ex-partner in secret and he wasn’t a Traveller so I was so worried about whether or not I’d have support.
“I was transferred to the Rotunda, and I think my mam was relieved that there wasn’t something seriously wrong with me, but I was having a baby,” said Cilla.
Because she had not known she was pregnant, Cilla had been leading the life of the average 23-year-old, enjoying her nights out with her friends. Upon arriving at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital, doctors became concerned that Cilla’s baby would be very small, considering the size of her bump.
“When I arrived there, the midwife told me to prepare myself for the worst. They thought my baby was going to be very small because my bump was so small. I was hardly showing at all, I had no idea.
“I had been drinking, something I’d have never done in a million years if I had known. I went into labour in April, and a month before on St Patrick’s Day we had a bit of a mad night, and I actually fell and hurt myself. When they told me I was in labour I was so worried that the baby wasn’t going to be okay. I was terrified,” said Cilla.
Fortunately, Cilla welcomed a beautiful baby girl that day and called her Dollyanna, a combination of her auntie and mum’s names.
“When she was born, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
“I needn’t have worried about my family at all. My father didn’t even give out to me. The second he saw her, he just fell in love. Nothing bad happened at all and they were all so supportive. Dollyanna and I came home and we had everything we could ever need, a pram and everything a baby could ask for.
“There were loads of rumours going around about me but I just didn’t care. My family was all that mattered to me,” she said.
Dollyanna (5) is now in Senior Infants and her mum said she is a budding singer with a deep love of music.
“She’s very, very clever and confident. She’s a great little singer and she’d hear a song and have it learned tomorrow. Her life is singing and dancing,” said Cilla.
Despite the “trauma” of the evening, Cilla said she wouldn’t change it because Dollyanna has had such a positive impact on her life and that of her family’s.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so overwhelmed, but she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. That night was shocking, scary, traumatising but worth every bit of it,” the mum said.
The mum-of-one admitted that she’d love to have more children in the future and give Dollyanna a sister or brother, but only if she meets the right one.
“I always said I’d only get married if I fell in love with the right person, but I haven’t met him yet,” she said.