‘WHAT KIND OF LIFE WOULD OUR BABY HAVE?’
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.
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…
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 &