Robyn Bailey had blamed her expanding waistline on being happy in a relationship.
She was taking the contraceptive pill, had regular periods and therefore never imagined she could be pregnant.
Robyn, 23, drank and smoke and two weeks before she went to see a doctor thinking she had appendicitis she had been out celebrating her birthday and had binged on alcohol.
She was shocked to discover the agonising pain she was experiencing was a sign she was in labour.
But the emotional rollercoaster was far from over for the new mother and her partner Luke Darvill.
Just weeks after welcoming their surprise baby into the world, their joy turned to panic when they discovered Daisy struggling to breathe.
The child was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with two holes in her heart. Daisy nearly died three times, during two lots of heart surgery
Looking back at the tumultuous time, Robyn, from Haverhill, Suffolk, recalled: ‘I had gone up from a size 12 when I started dating Luke to a size 18-20 three years later,’ she said.
The 23-year-old blamed her pregnancy weight gain on being happy in a relationship
‘I just thought it was “relationship weight,” gained because we were so happy together and I hadn’t been watching what I ate.
‘I was on the contraceptive pill and didn’t miss a period.’
‘I couldn’t stop crying’
In February 2015, barmaid Robyn and logistics co-ordinator Luke, 26, were staying over at his father’s house, when she woke with agonising stomach pain.
Because she had no idea she was pregnant, when her waters broke, she thought the pain was an appendicitis.
Robyn and Luke say Daisy, now two, has come on leaps and bounds after her operations
‘I told Luke some mess had come out of me,’ she explained. ‘He misunderstood and thought I had soiled myself. He told me to clean myself up.
‘We’d earlier that night had an argument over KFC, so we were in a bad mood with each other.’
But, in agony, Robyn couldn’t sleep and called the NHS helpline, 101, who asked if she could be pregnant.
‘I said no straight away,’ she continued. ‘I hadn’t missed a period, so I didn’t think I was.’
The next morning, still in pain, the couple went to the doctors and were amazed to be told Robyn was expecting a baby ‘at any minute’.
Daisy had an elastic band-style object round her valve, so her heart could function properly
They went straight to Addenbroke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
‘I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t stop crying,’ she said. ‘I was in shock and just kept crying and crying and crying.
‘I celebrated my 21st at seven months pregnant and drank loads. Two weeks before I gave birth I was out celebrating a friend’s 21st.
‘I drank and smoked while expecting. It’s not something I’d encourage, but I simply did not know I was pregnant.’
Taken to hospital by car, it was confirmed she was pregnant – even possibly overdue – and was dilated by 2cm.
But, after 26 hours of pushing, the baby still hadn’t arrived so Robyn was given an emergency caesarean.
The child had to have a second operation, a heart bypass, at Great Ormond Street Hospital
Daisy arrived weighing 8lb 12oz, seemingly happy and healthy – just one day after her mum discovered she was pregnant.
‘I can’t remember how I felt,’ Robyn recalled. ‘I was petrified, but I loved Daisy instantly. I loved her immediately.
‘My eyes met hers and I loved her. There was nothing like it.’
WHAT IS A HOLE IN THE HEART?
Holes in the heart are considered to be congenital defects – problems with the organ’s structure that are present at birth.
They are estimated to affect eight in every 1,000 babies and are linked to both migraines and strokes.
These defects change the normal flow of blood through the heart, medical literature states.
Holes are either call an atrial septal defect (ASD) – which strikes the heart’s upper two chambers, or a ventricular septal defect – in the lower two chambers.
I thought it was my fault
But, exactly two weeks later, problems started when, on a day out in Cambridge, Daisy became sleepy and started breathing heavily.
Initially suspected of having sepsis, she was taken by emergency ambulance to the resuscitation unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where scans revealed she had not one but two holes in her heart.
Initially, Robyn worried it was her fault, but doctors explained her smoking and drinking during pregnancy was not to blame and the condition was possibly genetic.
‘I first thought, “It’s my fault”, I didn’t know I was pregnant – I was smoking and drinking,’ said Robyn.
‘Thankfully, doctors reassured me that was not the case.
‘I can’t believe that, within two weeks, I went from being a normal 21-year-old, who was drinking, smoking and didn’t know she was pregnant, to being a mum with a baby with two holes in her heart.’
Daisy spent the next five weeks in hospital, having her first four-hour operation in April at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
During this surgery, medics inserted an elastic band-style object round her valve, so her heart could function properly.
Then, in November, an eight-hour heart bypass was performed at the same London hospital.
She’s the best thing ever
Now, while she is still under the care of cardiology at GOSH, two-year-old Daisy has come on leaps and bounds.
‘She’s at nursery twice a week,’ her proud mother explained. ‘She loves colouring and can count to 10. She’s amazing.
‘In a matter of weeks, Luke and I went from not knowing we were having a baby, to nearly losing her. It was a real rollercoaster.
‘But my surprise baby was the best thing ever.’
Robyn worried that she had caused her daughter’s heart problems by smoking and drinking
Luke added: ‘In a matter of weeks our lives had changed completely.
‘We had no idea that Daisy was on the horizon and suddenly Robyn was not only pregnant, but also in labour and giving birth to our baby.
‘We weren’t prepared at all, but as soon as we set our eyes on our baby daughter, we were love struck and couldn’t wait to get the next chapter of our lives started. She completed our little family.
‘We had been at home for two weeks before Daisy became seriously unwell. We were told her heart wasn’t working properly – it was terrifying to think that something we loved so much could be taken away from us.’
Luke is running a half-marathon in aid of The Sick Children’s Trust, which provided them with accommodation near the hospitals where Daisy was being treated. To donate visit here.
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