A bride who gave birth on her wedding day says the early arrival of her unexpected little guest was the perfect wedding gift.
As a former wedding planner, Rebecca Macmillan knows better than most that timing is everything when it comes to planning your special day.
But when she and partner Nick Cheetham found out the surprise news they were set to become parents just four weeks after the dream wedding they had booked, they felt sure they had time to spare.
Tiny wedding-gatecrashe r Rory had other ideas.
Shocked Rebecca went into labor on the morning of her wedding day.
At a time when she should have been getting ready to walk down the aisle, she was giving birth to her baby son by emergency caesarean section.
She believes little Rory clearly didn’t want to miss his parents’ special day.
Rebecca said: “Every bride wants a memorable wedding day, and Rory has made ours more memorable than most.
“We ended up not getting married, but we have the most beautiful baby boy instead.
“We may have lost most of the money spent for our wedding, but the joy of having our son is priceless.”
Hairdresser Rebecca, 32, and Skills and Competency manager Nick, 36, got engaged in July last year after meeting online and dating for five years.
The couple, who live in Stirling, booked their wedding for Saturday, 21st May at Gartmore Village Hall, in the heart of the Trossachs National Park, and set to work organizing everything from catering to a videographer.
Rebecca felt sure it was unlikely she would give birth one month before her baby’s June 20 due date.
She said: “When I was a wedding planner I didn’t ever work with a pregnant bride. I think most people aren’t mad enough to get married while heavily pregnant – just me.
“When we first discovered we were going to have a baby we were actually going to postpone the wedding, but after going through the coronavirus pandemic we realized life is too short and decided “Let’s just go for it”.
“We often joked about our baby arriving on our wedding day – never actually believing it would happen.
“I’d have the conversation on a daily basis with my hairdressing clients too, and I’d always say “As long as I make it up the aisle” – but that’s not what happened.”
Rebecca, who was set to have eight bridesmaids at her wedding, said the surprise pregnancy led to them altering some of their wedding plans.
She said: “I had to buy a new wedding dress – four sizes too big for me – as my original dress was tiny.
“My hen weekend plans had to be designed around my pregnancy – but we still had a wonderful time, in Port Patrick, where we did an aromatherapy workshop, dressed up as rock and pop stars, and went out for dinner.
“But other than that I was probably a bit naive and believed it would all be fine, and that I’d be rocking out on the wedding dancefloor.”
Rebecca said she first started to feel nervous their baby may arrive early the day before her wedding, as she and Nick were joined by family to decorate the hall where their reception was being held.
She said: “I woke up on Friday morning feeling good.
“On Friday afternoon we set up the hall.
“Our mums went to work making table arrangements, the bar was set up and we set all our chairs out ready for the ceremony.
“Things were looking great and there was a lovely buzz, but I didn’t feel right.
“By the time the evening came, I was paranoid, so called the midwife.
“She assessed me and said at that moment my symptoms were ok and I should be fine, but I was to call back if anything changed.
“We had a pre-wedding dinner with our parents, then I went to bed for an early night at a B&B, whilst Nick stayed at a nearby hotel.”
Rebecca woke up in the early hours of the morning as her waters broke.
She calmly called the hospital, packed her bags, then called Nick to tell him she was on her way.
She said: “As I was leaving I knocked on my bridesmaids’ door to tell them I was heading to hospital.
“I had to drive myself because I was the only one who hadn’t had a drink at dinner.”
While driving to the hospital Rebecca said both she and Nick hoped they would be told they could go ahead with their wedding plans, as her contractions hadn’t yet started.
But on arrival at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, they were told her baby was on his way.
As Nick contacted their wedding suppliers to cancel their big day, their families did their best to contact all 200 guests.
Rebecca said: “All the nurses and midwives knew our story, and told us how sorry they were about the wedding. All the hospital staff have been so kind and absolutely amazing.
“Our family and friends who were local, gathered at the venue to start dismantling the wedding – collecting everything from my dress, decorations, jewellery, the cake, you name it, putting it all back in storage for the next big day.
“Everyone was mostly concerned and excited for us which was really lovely. Some people thought it was a wind-up.”
When medics noticed Rebecca’s unborn baby’s heartbeat was starting to dip worryingly every time she had a contraction, the decision was made to rush her to theater for an emergency caesarean section.
Baby Rory Ian William Cheetham was born at 11.40am, weighing 5lbs 3 ounces, on what was meant to be his parent’s wedding day.
Many wedding guests who had gathered at the wedding venue, organized drinks to toast the new arrival.
Rebecca said: “We had a Facebook page for our wedding, so we posted a picture of Rory to tell everyone he was here.”
Rebecca and Nick believe postponing their wedding just hours before it was due to go ahead may have cost them up to £12,000.
They hope finally get married and go ahead with their dream wedding some time in the future.
And they will make sure their baby grows up knowing the chaos – and expense – his dramatic early arrival caused.
Rebecca, who was joined by Nick and her midwives for an unofficial wedding cake cutting ceremony in hospital said: “We had paid our final balances two weeks before the wedding.
“We’d paid for the venue, catering, band, photographer, videographer, Humanist celebrant, cake, kilt hire, hired a bar, flowers, hair and make-up, and Nick had even booked a surprise piper for me.
“The piper and the photographer have said they will happily transfer our booking to a new date.
“Our caterer has also offered to move the date for a small fee – a baby cuddle from Rory.
“Hopefully some of the others will do the same as I’m not sure how we’ll afford it again.
“I’ve had a word with Rory, and he knows he won’t be getting pocket money until he’s 18.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.