Our Little Dream Baby!
After a one-night stand with a stripper, Jennie found out she was pregnant.
Dreamboy Mark promised to stand by her and they vowed to make it work despite only having met once and living in different countries.
But those obstacles turned out to be the least of their worries when their baby was born severely disabled.
The music thumped. With a sudden tug, the guy’s trousers ripped off and he threw them across the stage.
The crowd whooped louder. My best mate Diane and I squealed with delight.
‘Phwooar! Now he’s gorgeous!’ I giggled.
We were enjoying a girlie night out. The Dreamboys were on the German leg of their European tour and when I saw they were appearing in Dusseldorf, just a few miles from where I lived, I bought tickets.
‘C’mon, it’ll be a right laugh!’ I said to Diane.
And it was. We were having a whale of a time. I didn’t want the evening to end.
So when, after the show, we got given some backstage passes, I was delighted. Especially when I got talking to the sexy blonde who’d whipped off his trousers…
‘I’m Shane,’ he smiled. ‘Fancy a beer?’
Tall and muscular with a body to die for, I could hardly believe he was talking to me.
One beer led to another. Soon, I was admiring his tattoos.
‘I’ve got more to show you,’ he said cheekily. ‘If you fancy coming back to my hotel room…’
It was an amazing night. Shane was every bit as good a performer in the bedroom as he was on the stage.
The next morning though, I felt a bit awkward.
‘I bet you do this all the time,’ I cringed. ‘Can you even remember my name?’
‘Course I can, Jennie,’ he smiled and my tummy flipped.
We swapped numbers. Not that I really expected to hear from him again. He probably had women falling at his feet every night.
But over the next few weeks, we exchanged a few flirty texts.
‘Just a bit of fun,’ I told Diane.
Only two months later, I suddenly realised I’d missed my period. Could I be…? No, we’d used a condom.
But the doctor confirmed it. ‘You’re two months gone,’ she smiled.
‘I can’t believe it,’ I said to Diane. I’d just finished college, started working as a nurse. A baby was the last thing on my mind. Especially with a man I hardly knew.
‘I didn’t even know you were seeing anyone,’ a shocked Mum said when I broke the news.
‘I’m not really,’ I mumbled.
‘You have to tell Shane,’ Diane said. ‘He has a right to know.’
It took me three weeks to pluck up the courage.
‘It’s Jennie,’ I said nervously. ‘I’ve got something to tell you…’
Silence. Then the phone went dead.
‘He hung up on me,’ I said to Diane. ‘I suppose that says it all.’
But ten minutes later, my mobile bleeped. A text –
‘Are you sure it’s mine?’ he asked.
‘100%.’ I replied.
After that, the texts became more regular, asking me how I was feeling; what happened at my midwife appointment.
I sent him my scan picture.
‘I can’t believe this is really happening!’ he replied.
Soon we were chatting for two or three hours a day. I looked forward to his pre and post-show calls, feeling a little thrill that it was me he was spending time with, not hordes of giggling groupies.
When I found out I was carrying a girl, Shane was delighted.
‘I’ve always liked the name Skye,’ he said.
My Mum loved the name Jolina. We decided on Jolina-Skye.
He really seemed to want to give us a proper go, despite him living in Birmingham and me in Germany. Every few weeks, when he had time off, he’d drive over to see me and the bump.
‘She’s getting bigger,’ he smiled, placing his hands gently on my tummy.
‘I really hope you don’t get hurt,’ Diane said warily, noticing my new glow.
I knew she was only looking out for me. But Shane really seemed to be looking forward to us being a family. That Christmas, he invited me over to his Mum’s 40th birthday party.
I was nervous. What would his parents think of me? But they couldn’t have been more welcoming.
‘It’s lovely to finally meet you,’ his mum said, giving me a hug. ‘I can’t believe I’m going to be a grandma!’
I went back home feeling more excited than ever. The next two months, while Shane continued his tour with the Dreamboys , we spoke daily and saw each other as often as we could.
But then, as my due date grew closer, he suddenly stopped calling.
‘If you’ve changed your mind at least have the decency to let me know,’ I said, crushed.
‘I’ve just been busy,’ Shane finally responded.
But I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Still, I soon had more pressing things to worry about.
‘I think the baby’s coming,’ I told Mum. It was four weeks too soon..
I couldn’t get hold of Shane. He was on stage in Newcastle. My brother texted his dad to let him know I’d gone into labour while Mum and Diane took me to hospital.
Jolina-Skye was born four hours later weighing a tiny 4lb 7oz.
‘She’s not breathing,’ I heard the midwife say.
Woozy with exhaustion, I reached out my arms to hold her but she was already being whisked off to the special care baby unit.
The doctor explained Jolina-Skye had meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) caused by her inhaling a mixture of meconium – the baby’s first thick, sticky poo passed in the womb – and amniotic fluid. It had blocked her airways so she couldn’t breathe properly.
I needed an IV drip to combat the infection too. We were both referred to another hospital for treatment.
Shane arrived at the hospital that afternoon.
‘I’m so sorry I stopped texting,’ he said. ‘I suddenly got nervous. But as soon as Dad told me, I got the earliest flight I could.’
We went down to see our daughter. Even surrounded by breathing apparatus she looked so beautiful. I could tell Shane was choked up.
‘Is there going to be any lasting damage because of the MAS?’ I asked the doctor.
But it was too early to say for sure.
Finally, after five days, we held her for the first time. It was a special moment.
‘She’s perfect,’ Shane cooed.
‘I just want to take her home,’ I said.
But Jolina-Skye spent another six weeks in intensive care. I spent every day
by her side, only going back to my flat to sleep.
Shane tried to be around as much as possible. He’d drive over most weekends and we’d speak daily on webcam.
‘She’s getting so big,’ he said sadly. ‘I’m missing so much.’
Finally, I was allowed to bring her home. Shane drove us back to my flat. I was over the moon.
But as the days passed, I started to feel uneasy. Jolina-Skye had problems swallowing her milk and then, at ten weeks old, she started having seizures.
My GP made me an emergency appointment and we were readmitted to hospital. Doctors tried to find the right medication to control Jolina-Skye’s seizures. It was heartbreaking seeing her tiny body jerking involuntarily.
‘Please, do something,’ I wept.
But test after test brought no answers.
‘Please come to England,’ Shane begged me. ‘You both need me.’
It was a big decision. I’d have to learn how to care for Jolina-Skye so I could administer her oxygen myself. But Shane was right – we did need him.
‘Are you sure it’s the right thing to do?’ Mum fretted.
But my mind was made up. We moved over the following month.
In England we were referred to a neurologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Jolina-Skye had more tests. Finally, an EEG revealed she had Ohtahara syndrome, an extremely rare and devastating form of epilepsy.
‘What can you do for her?’ Shane asked.
It didn’t look good. As it was a progressive brain disorder, chances were Jolina-Skye’s seizures would become more frequent and she’d be severely mental and physical disabled.
It was the same condition that David Cameron’s son had – and he sadly died last year at the age of six.
We were gently told Jolina-Skye might not live past her first birthday.
We were devastated. But despite barely having chance to get to know each other properly Shane and I pulled together as doctors battled to get our daughter’s medication under control.
When Jolina-Skye was finally stable we brought her back to Shane’ place in Birmingham.
But it was hard caring for a sick child on my own while Shane worked in different cities.
Although she was now on sedating and muscle relaxing medicines, Jolina still couldn’t sit up or even roll over.
She can’t even drink from a bottle and has to be fed over a tube through her tummy.
When her seizures started getting worse and she was also diagnosed with dystonia – an incurable neurological movement disorder which causes painful involuntary muscle spasms – the following year, it was the final straw.
‘We can’t go on like this,’ I wept.
‘I’ve quit,’ Shane said a few weeks later. ‘So I can be a full-time carer for Jolina-Skye. It’s too much for you, trying to cope alone. I need to be here for you both, not on stage.’
I was touched. I knew how much his job meant to him.
It wasn’t easy getting to know each other and caring for a severely ill baby, and there were arguments, but the difficult times made us stronger, too.
‘I never thought I’d say this, but you really seem to be making a go of this,’ Mum said proudly.
Even the doctors had warned us that this would put an immense pressure on us as a couple.
But we’d proved them all wrong. And when Jolina-Skye turned one, Shane had a surprise in store.
‘Marry me?’ he attempted in German before dropping to his knees and taking out a diamond ring.
‘Of course I will!’ I cried.
We didn’t set a date. Jolina-Skye was our first priority.
Now she’s two and just like Shane and I, she’s beaten all predictions too.
Yes, she still requires round the clock care like a newborn and she’ll probably never hear or walk. But she has started smiling and giggling. We’ll never give up on her.
We’re currently raising funds for her to have dolphin therapy. It can help children like her to have less seizures and helps with reflux too – which is often a problem with tube-fed toddlers. The only problem is the cost – a whopping £20,000.
‘We can do it,’ Shane promised.
A few weeks later, he’d roped in his Dreamboy mates to put on a charity Ladies Night. Then, we followed it up with a sponsored 10km run. So far we’ve raised an impressive £5,900.
Yes, we’ve still a long way to go, but we’ll get there… After all, who’d have thought that a relationship built around a one-night stand and a seriously ill child could work, either?
Shane could have had any woman when he was touring with the Dreamboys but he’s stood by us, showing he’s just as lovely on the inside as he is on the outside.
We’ve going from strength to strength these last two years and it’s all down to Jolina-Skye. She may never realise it but she’s made her mummy and daddy very happy. In fact, she’s our very own Dreamgirl!