Waving to my daughter down the corridor, she gave me a cheery smile. It was 2014 and Babs, then 29, was a teaching assistant in the primary school where I worked as a cook – the same school she’d attended as a child. She was fabulous with the kids and it was a joy to go to work each day alongside my daughter.
Babs had always been such a bubbly, outgoing girl. She’d lived in New Zealand for a year in her early 20s, working in a restaurant on her gap year. I’d missed her terribly while she was away, but now she was living back at home with me, her dad Pete, 53, and her younger siblings Katie, then 21, and Jamie, 17.
Seeing her every day at work, I was loving making up for lost time. But, after waving to her, I watched as she started hobbling along the corridor, and her steps seemed slower and more deliberate than usual.
‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked later that evening, as we sat drinking tea.
‘No, I’m not, actually,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘I’ve been a bit shaky and my joints feel stiff.’
Her GP did blood tests and referred her for further testing, but doctors couldn’t pinpoint the cause of her symptoms.
Meanwhile, as Babs continued having tests, she and her long-term boyfriend broke up. She was upset but, a month later, she came downstairs one morning beaming with excitement.
‘Mum, you’re not going to believe it – I’m pregnant!’ she cried, hugging me.
It had always been Babs’ dream to be a mum, and I knew she’d be a natural. But while Babs excitedly made plans for the baby, she was referred for an MRI scan which showed an abnormality in her brain.
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