Stop the wed­ding I’m hav­ing a baby

Kim Clay­ton, 31, couldn’t wait to be her best friend’s chief brides­maid, but then her baby de­cided to make an early en­trance…

Friday - - Society -

I t was my first day in a new job and as I walked into the of­fice, my stom­ach churned. Des­per­ate to find a friendly face, I scanned the room un­til one popped up from be­hind a desk. “Hello, I’m Sam!’’ blurted a friendly face with a huge, beam­ing smile. “I’ll show you around.’’

We clicked im­me­di­ately. Sam Holpin told me who to avoid and who to be nice to – and we soon re­alised we had the same sense of hu­mour.

With our desks side by side, our friend­ship blos­somed. Both com­mit­ted to long-term re­la­tion­ships, we loved go­ing to the cin­ema and both had close-knit fam­i­lies. That was why I un­der­stood her fear when one morn­ing she told me her mum was ill.

“It’s can­cer,’’ she said. “It doesn’t look good.’’ I saw in­stantly the agony she was go­ing through. But we hardly talked about it at work. For Sam, the Kent Po­lice of­fice where we worked as fi­nan­cial investigators in the UK was an es­cape from all the heartache, and I re­spected that.

Weeks af­ter her mum died, I wanted to do some­thing spe­cial for Sam. Her 30th birth­day was com­ing up so I planned a sur­prise.

I asked her part­ner Daniel to pop round with her swim­ming cos­tume, and dad smiled as we all walked down the aisle.

Since Sam’s mother had died of can­cer, my mum Lor­raine treated Sam like another daugh­ter. We all loved her. She was my best friend with ic­ing on the top.

Bradley and I started try­ing for a fam­ily straight away. But Sam and Daniel were drift­ing apart. “We’ve de­cided to get di­vorced,’’ she told me sadly. I gave her a hug.

“You’ll get through this,’’ I re­as­sured her. She did and two years passed quickly. Fi­nally I was able to tell her the news I’d hoped for. “I’m preg­nant!’’ I grinned.

Sam was thrilled. It wasn’t a straight­for­ward preg­nancy; I was hit with pre-eclamp­sia – high blood pres­sure and ex­cess pro­tein in the urine, which if left un­treated could be fatal.

But as soon as baby Mia ar­rived safely, Sam was so relieved she flung her­self through the hos­pi­tal doors with flow­ers and choco­lates.

Things were look­ing up for her too. She’d had a cou­ple of dates with Stuart, a childhood sweet­heart.

“I think he could be Mr Right!’’ she said. Stuart was fan­tas­tic and we all be­came close friends, spend­ing all our spare time to­gether.

In win­ter 2011, all five of us – in­clud­ing Mia – went to a Christ­mas mar­ket in Cologne, Ger­many, while on hol­i­day.

Stuart took me to one side for a pri­vate chat. “I’m go­ing to pro­pose,’’ he told me. De­lighted, I promised to keep his se­cret.

We were all wan­der­ing around Cologne’s cathe­dral when Stuart and Sam dis­ap­peared. When I saw them min­utes later, they were both in tears. “We’re get­ting mar­ried,’’ they said. “And we want you to be our brides­maid, Kim.’’ Ex­cited, I ac­cepted,

‘We’re get­ting mar­ried,’ they said. ‘And we want you to be our brides­maid, Kim’

then I picked her up at home.

“Come on,’’ I said. “We’re off for a spa day – my treat.’’

Her face lit up. By the end of the day, I could see a lit­tle bit of Sam’s spark re­turn­ing.

Months passed. Soon we had a celebration to plan. “We’re get­ting mar­ried,’’ an­nounced Sam one day. “It’s go­ing to be a small do in Malta.’’

My part­ner Bradley was best man and I was her brides­maid. I was a blub­ber­ing mess as she said her vows.

Then it was my turn to make an an­nounce­ment.

“Bradley’s popped the ques­tion,’’ I told Sam.

“Fan­tas­tic!’’ she replied, throw­ing her arms around me. “Now I have a hen night to sort out.’’

Sam took charge. It was a spa weekend in Chel­tenham for six close friends. In the evening we all dressed up as po­lice­women – an ob­vi­ous theme given Sam and I both worked for the po­lice ser­vice.

On my wed­ding day, Sam was brides­maid, along with my two sis­ters and another friend. My mum

and a date for the big day was set: Septem­ber 7, 2013.

My mum and I run a wed­ding com­pany along­side our reg­u­lar jobs so we of­fered to set up the venue on the day; make the cake and its top­per – lit­tle fon­dant mod­els of the bride and groom.

Then, nine months be­fore the big day, I started to feel weird. I did a preg­nancy test. “Oh no!’’ I gasped. “It’s pos­i­tive!’’ I went to my GP to check on the dates. “Now let me see…’’ said the doc­tor. “We’re look­ing at a due date of Septem­ber 19.’’

I gulped with half de­light, half dread. Mia had been three weeks early – there was ev­ery chance this baby could ar­rive be­fore or dur­ing the wed­ding. What was Sam go­ing to say?

“I’m so sorry Sam but I’m preg­nant – and the baby’s due in Septem­ber!” I blurted out the next time I saw her.

But she was thrilled for me. “Let’s

‘Hang on un­til af­ter the wed­ding,” I told my bump. But then I started hav­ing con­trac­tions

just hope you’ll make the wed­ding,’’ she said.

A preg­nancy plan was put in place. We bought a size 18 brides­maid dress in­stead of my nor­mal size eight.

“Wouldn’t it be great if it ar­rived on the day?’’ ev­ery­one joked. I wasn’t laugh­ing. I wanted Sam’s day to be ab­so­lutely per­fect.

“Hang on in there un­til af­ter the wed­ding!” I told my bump. Then, one morn­ing, a week be­fore the wed­ding, I started hav­ing con­trac­tions. We went to the hos­pi­tal, where I was hav­ing con­trac­tions ev­ery two to three min­utes.

“Still not reg­u­lar enough,’’ said the doc­tor. “Go home.’’

By now I was will­ing the baby to ar­rive. If it came now, I could make the wed­ding. I ate cur­ries, did lunges – any­thing to bring on the birth.

But the con­trac­tions kept com­ing and then stop­ping. With the wed­ding loom­ing on Satur­day, by Thurs­day I was pray­ing I’d make it.

Sam would ring ev­ery day. “Still preg­nant,” I’d tell her.

But on the wed­ding morn­ing the con­trac­tions were back. As I had my hair done, I clung on to the dress­ing ta­ble in pain.

My great­est fear was my waters break­ing dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

“You can’t come now,’’ I told my bump. “You have to stay put.’’

Just be­fore the cer­e­mony, I put on my dress and held Mia’s hand. She was Sam’s flower girl.

“Just keep smil­ing,’’ I told my­self.

We walked into the room, both look­ing ra­di­ant. All eyes were on Sam – then the bump!

Sit­ting on the front row, I took deep breaths as the con­trac­tions came. I could feel my­self get­ting hot­ter and hot­ter.

I was so relieved when the cer­e­mony was over and I was able to give Sam a hug.

“Are you all right?’’ she asked. “Yes, yes, fine,’’ I smiled. The con­trac­tions were still hit and miss. I kept breath­ing deeply, will­ing the baby to stay put. I smiled through con­trac­tion af­ter con­trac­tion, clap­ping as they cut through the wed­ding cake. I even man­aged a quick dance with Mia.

By 10pm, I gave Sam a big hug as I left to go up­stairs to my room in the ho­tel where we were stay­ing.

“I’m so tired,’’ I said. “What a fan­tas­tic day!’’

Flop­ping on to the bed, I turned to Bradley and said, “You’d bet­ter pack a bag ready for hos­pi­tal – just in case.’’

The con­trac­tions con­tin­ued through the night. At 6am, I rang mum who was also stay­ing at the ho­tel, to come and get Mia.

Bradley drove me to the Pem­bury Hos­pi­tal, Tun­bridgeWells, and two hours later, at 8.19am, I pushed a beau­ti­ful baby girl into the world nearly two weeks early. We called her Belle.

“Will you let Sam know please?’’ I asked my mum.

I was dis­charged from hos­pi­tal with Belle the same day. Sam and Stuart were able to visit us at home the next day.

“She’s beau­ti­ful just like her name,’’ said Sam, glow­ing with hap­pi­ness. “She re­ally has made our day very spe­cial.’’

That’s Sam all over. The most gen­er­ous, fab­u­lous best friend you could ever have.

Kim was hop­ing the baby would stay put un­til the wed­ding was over

Kim, left, looked stun­ning de­spite be­ing gripped by con­trac­tions

Kim, Bradley and Mia are de­lighted with the ar­rival of baby Belle

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