‘WHAT KIND OF LIFE WOULD OUR BABY HAVE?’

Woman (UK) - - Real Life -

Pe­tra Jahchan, 39, lives in High Wy­combe with her hus­band Mar­wan, 41, and their chil­dren, Yara, six, and Daniel, 10 months.

See­ing the preg­nancy test turn blue in Novem­ber 2017 was amaz­ing. My hus­band, Mar­wan, and I al­ready had a daugh­ter, Yara, then four. But we both wanted an­other child.

But on 15 Jan­uary 2018, the 12-week scan we’d been so look­ing for­ward to quickly be­came our night­mare. As the sono­g­ra­pher rolled the trans­ducer over my tummy, a strange, bulging image ap­peared. ‘That’s not right,’ she said, call­ing a se­nior col­league. The baby had a con­di­tion called ex­om­pha­los. This means the ab­domen doesn’t close up prop­erly dur­ing foetal de­vel­op­ment, so parts of the stom­ach, in­testines and liver are out­side the body. Back home, we put on a brave face, hop­ing they’d got it wrong. But

Mar­wan’s sup­port was in­valu­able

‘BE­COM­ING A MUM WASN’T IN MY PLANS’

Sit­ting on the toi­let in July 2017, I tried to con­trol the flut­ter­ing in my chest. But then I saw the pos­i­tive line ap­pear, and my hands started to shake.

I met my hus­band, Quintin, in his home coun­try of South Africa when I was work­ing there in 2013, aged 21, and we fell for each other straight away. I was hon­est with him and told him that be­com­ing a mum wasn’t in my plans. He ac­cepted that and when I re­turned to the UK, we were com­mit­ted to mak­ing our re­la­tion­ship work.

Af­ter two and a half years of liv­ing on dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents, we couldn’t be apart any longer, and went to Sri Lanka to get mar­ried in 2016. Even af­ter we moved in to­gether, my feel­ings about chil­dren didn’t change.

Then, in July 2017, I re­alised my pe­riod was late. We were us­ing con­doms and hadn’t had any ac­ci­dents, but I de­cided to take a test to put my mind at ease. when we re­turned to the hos­pi­tal for an­other scan, we saw the same bulge again.

Heartache

We were taken to the hos­pi­tal’s pri­vate Wil­low fam­ily room, where the doc­tor ex­plained it would mean ma­jor surg­eries and po­ten­tial heart prob­lems, and if the baby was a girl, she wouldn’t be able to have chil­dren. What kind of life would this baby have?

The doc­tor left us to talk. We held hands and cried. We both knew what we had to do: end the preg­nancy.

Af­ter­wards, I was a wreck, but Mar­wan was amaz­ing, al­ways there to lis­ten and hold me, and the char­ity An­te­na­tal Re­sults and Choices (ARC) was a great sup­port. Two months later, in March, we had a burial for the baby, who we called Wil­low, af­ter the room in the hos­pi­tal.

In Oc­to­ber 2018, I fell preg­nant again. Daniel was born healthy and weigh­ing 7lb 3oz. Yara adores be­ing a big sis­ter and al­though our fam­ily now feels com­plete, we will never for­get Wil­low or re­gret the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion we made. To this day, I know it was the right one for our fam­ily and, most of all, for her.

See­ing it turn pos­i­tive was just aw­ful.

I texted Quintin to tell him. He came home as fast as he could, his face full of con­cern. I im­me­di­ately knew I wanted an abor­tion and told him so. Thank­fully, he was in to­tal agree­ment.

There was no ques­tion in my mind about con­tin­u­ing with the preg­nancy – I couldn’t bring a baby into the world that wasn’t truly wanted. The minute I woke up, all I felt was a wave of re­lief. Of course I don’t take abor­tion lightly, or think peo­ple should fall back on it af­ter be­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble and not us­ing con­tra­cep­tion, but in the two and half years since the ter­mi­na­tion, I haven’t dwelled on it.

I still don’t want a child. Quintin thinks he prob­a­bly would at some point, but we’ll see what hap­pens and will con­tinue to talk to each other about it.

‘I FELT A HUGE WAVE OF RE­LIEF’

‘WE WILL NEVER FOR­GET WIL­LOW’

Ella met Quintin while work­ing abroad

Did you know that the more moles you have, the greater your risk of de­vel­op­ing melanoma? This type of skin cancer af­fects around 16,000 peo­ple ev­ery year in the UK, but the good news is that by be­ing sun safe, and ‘mole aware’, 86% of cases are pre­ventable.*

What are moles?

Moles are com­mon, pig­mented skin growths that are ei­ther present from birth, or de­velop in child­hood and early adult life. Ge­net­ics play a part in the num­ber we may have on our bod­ies – mul­ti­ple moles tend to run in fam­i­lies, but ex­ces­sive sun ex­po­sure is a big fac­tor in the for­ma­tion of new moles.

So, when to worry?

Most moles are harm­less, but UV rays can in­crease the chance of a mole be­com­ing can­cer­ous, so peo­ple who have them need to be ex­tra care­ful in the sun. Be­cause we have more skin ex­posed dur­ing the sum­mer months, now is the prime time to be aware of any moles on the body and if they are chang­ing, says Dr Adam Fried­mann, con­sul­tant der­ma­tol­o­gist at Stra­tum Der­ma­tol­ogy Clin­ics. ‘Skin cancer usu­ally presents it­self as a mole or mark on the skin and can be dis­missed be­cause peo­ple don’t no­tice it, or don’t want to bother their GP,’ he says. Here’s what to look for…

Track­ing app

The NHS Mole­care app can help you self-screen your moles. Free to down­load from the App Store.

HOW TO IN­SPECT YOUR MOLES

‘If you no­tice a mole chang­ing in size, shape or colour, it should be checked out straight away,’ says Dr Fried­mann. He sug­gests us­ing this ABCDE guide to re­mem­ber the warn­ing signs.

✱ Asym­me­try ‘Both halves of a mole should usu­ally look the same,’ says Dr Fried­mann. Ask your­self: does the left side of the mole look like the right side, or does the top half look like the bot­tom half?

✱ Bor­der A mole’s bor­der should be well-de­fined and sharp, so look out for un­clear and ir­reg­u­lar edges.

✱ Colour Is your mole all the same colour? ‘Keep an eye out for any changes in colour, es­pe­cially black or blue colours, mul­ti­ple colours or pale ar­eas,’ ad­vises Dr Fried­mann.

✱ Di­am­e­ter Check that your mole is smaller than the end of a pen­cil. ‘A melanoma is usu­ally more than 6mm in di­am­e­ter – about the size of a pea,’ says Dr Fried­mann. ‘How­ever, any­thing grow­ing should be re­viewed, as melanomas can start small.’

✱ Evolv­ing Is the mole the same as when you first no­ticed it? Mon­i­tor any changes of ex­ist­ing moles look­ing at size, colour, crusti­ness, itch­ing or bleed­ing.

BE SAVVY WITH SKIN PRO­TEC­TION

Use these tips to stay safe in the sun

DIPPY FOR HOU­MOUS

It’s 30 years since Waitrose launched the chick­pea dip, and now 40% of us have a tub in our fridge at any one time. New flavours this sum­mer in­clude

Spicy Chilli, Roasted Beet­root &

Mint, and

Smoked, £1.60,

200g.

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