‘I was sheet white and drifting away. Kenny thought he was losing me… and would have to bring up two children alone’: Gabby Logan’s birth ordeal
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It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment that every parent is supposed to cherish. after the agony and anxiety of childbirth, mother and father cradle their first-born infant and happily ponder their new life together as a family.
But Gabby and Kenny Logan look back at their first moments of parenthood with a mixture of joy and shuddering dread. Gabby had endured a gruelling 36-hour labour that left both of them mentally and physically exhausted.
And as they cuddled their precious, yearned-for twins, Reuben and Lois, who were conceived by IVF, Gabby’s feeling of postnatal elation began to evaporate.
Lucky: Gabby Logan conceived with the help of IVF
‘I began to feel extremely tired and as if I was drifting away,’ she recalls. she glanced at her husband, then at the obstetrician and saw their faces grow increasingly alarmed.
As she lapsed into semi-consciousness, she can recall someone pushing the panic button. ‘Apparently I was sheet-white and haemorrhaging badly,’ she says.
Gabby was rushed into the nearby operating theatre, where surgeons battled for nearly three hours to save her life. for a while, it was touch and go, but after receiving an infusion of four-and-a-half pints of blood, she pulled through.
Speaking for the first time about her ordeal, she told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I was on oxygen and out of it, but Kenny was really worried that I wouldn’t make it. he told me he thought he was going to lose the woman he loved, be a single father and have to bring up our two children on his own.’
Five years on, there is no visible sign of Gabby’s terrifying brush with death. her twins are in robust good health and she has just finished a three-week stint as presenter of BBC1’s the one show following Christine Bleakley’s defection to ITV.
It is an unavoidable fact, though, that the Logans have not tried IVF again.
‘We know how lucky we are to have a lovely family,’ explains Gabby, who always uses ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ when talking about her pregnancy to emphasise her husband’s role. ‘and after one scare, we don’t know whether we can put all that at risk.’
Thrilled to be a mother: Gabby with husband Kenny and their twins Reuben and Lois
Gabby, 38, is even more glamorous in person than she appears on screen. there is an Amazonian quality about her – high cheek bones, large dark eyes, a dimple in each cheek and a finely toned, svelte body that looks stunning in a sculptured, bright-red, sleeveless dress.
It is no secret that she hoped to get the one show job permanently. instead, the producers chose newcomer Alex Jones.
‘I don’t think I should say I wish the job was mine because it isn’t,’ she says carefully. ‘I have other things that I enjoy.’ these include hosting the lunchtime show on BBC Radio 5 and regular sports presenting.
But as a former gymnast who represented Wales in the 1990 Commonwealth Games, Gabby has a competitive streak – a characteristic that counted against her in 2007 when she and her husband were rival contestants on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
The viewing public disliked her fierce perfectionism and voted heroff early in the competition in preference to more leaden-footedrivals, such as Kate Garraway.
Gabby was so upset, she hasrefused to talk about it until now. ‘I was really hurt when peopleaccused me of being too competitive,’ she says.
‘I learned frommy sporting background that there is no such thing as success without alot of effort, and that attitude extends to all aspects of my life.
In it to win it… but Gabby says she was hurt by public criticism
‘the only person I was competitive with was myself. I wanted to push myself and see what I could do and never tried to trample on anyone else.
‘I find it strange that calling a man competitive is a huge compliment, but for some reason it is almost derogatory and an insult when applied to a woman.
‘I loved being on Strictly more than anything I had ever done professionally. every day, when I came home after training, I’d dance my socks off round the house. I couldn’t stop. but I haven’t done any dancing since. once you have danced with professionals, it’s hard to go back.’
Since their childbirth ordeal, Gabby and Kenny have done a lot of work for Sparks, a charity founded by sports people to raise funds for medical research into babies and children.
She also actively supports the British Heart Foundation as a way of remembering her brother, Daniel, who collapsed and died of a congenital heart condition when he was just 15 and on the brink of a career as a professional footballer.
Gabby met her husband, a former Scottish rugby international, at 2am on January 24, 1999, in the K Bar off London’s fashionable Fulham Road.
‘I was on the way home from a party and a friend suggested we pop in,’ Gabby recalls with a smile.
‘Kenny was talking to a guy I knew and we started chatting. Then we went to a 24-hour cafe across the road and ate fry-ups until 5am. When we came out, he put his arm round me because it was quite cold. he told me later that he knew at that moment that I was the one.’ she beams.
‘We’ve now been together for 11 years and marred for nine. I was 28 and he was 29 when we married and we decided to start trying for a family straight away.
‘We both wanted to be quite young parents. We are both very positive people, so we didn’t really get down when nothing happened. every month, when I realised I wasn’t pregnant, I’d think, “Oh well, next month will be fine.” Sometimes I’d have a couple of days of feeling defeated, but I soon moved on.
‘but when we still weren’t pregnant after two years, I went to see a gynaecologist.’
Gabby and Kenny underwent a range of tests. ‘At one stage, I went tosee the doctor every day to have dye passed through my uterus so hecould monitor where the egg was,’ she recalls.
‘When we went for our full report several weeks later, we were toldthere was nothing wrong. I felt really deflated. I’d wanted somethingsmall to be wrong so it could be put right.’
After a few more weeks, with still no pregnancy, Gabby decided totry IVF. she admits: ‘Although it may sound crude, the only way wewould know if my eggs and Kenny’s sperm were compatible and would makea baby would be to put them together in a dish. Kenny kept saying,“what if we are not compatible?”
‘but I behaved verypragmatically. Losing my brother was something to cry over, but as longas I had hope about having a family, I wasn’t going to let myself cry.We both agreed that our decision to seek help only concerned us and wedidn’t tell a soul.’
Soulmates: Gabby and Kenny met in 1999 and wanted to be young parents
The couple arranged for one course of IVF. ‘Each stage of the process made us nervous,’ says Gabby. ‘I produced five good eggs and, when they had been fertilised, we had a call from the embryologist at 8am each day to tell us how they were growing.
‘it was a very nerve-racking time, particularly one day when there was no 8am call. I immediately thought something was wrong, panicked and tried to ring them. Eventually, I got through to a cleaner who explained that it was a Sunday and the staff came in a bit later.
‘two of the eggs were put back inside me, which meant in theory it was the first time we could slightly relax. but it was hard when we were on our own, wondering all the time if we were pregnant and knowing there was nothing we could do but wait.’
Gabby says it was an ‘interminable’ eight weeks before blood testscould be done to see if she was pregnant. ‘Each day seemed like ayear,’ she admits. ‘every day, I’d wonder if I had a baby inside me.
‘and,despite knowing that the foetus wouldn’t change dramatically from dayto day, I constantly wondered what it looked like. as the time for thetest drew close, we started to get very anxious.
‘Kenny was in Scotland on the day itself and I woke up to find thatI had bled.’ not surprisingly, her pragmatism was superseded by a rushof emotion. ‘my immediate thought was, “this is the end. it is notgoing to work.”
‘Despite myself, I broke down in tears and realised I had obviouslystored all my emotion away because I so wanted it to work. I rang Kennyand sobbed down the phone that there was no point going for the testbecause it was all over. Luckily, he persuaded me.
Radiant: Gabby in 2005, pregnant with twins Lois and Reuben
‘the bleeding wasn’t bad and, six hours later, I was in Prada in Bond Street on a shopping day for work clothes when the gynaecologist rang to say I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it.
‘I was in such a daze that I couldn’t concentrate on anything and took myself home.
‘We had a scan the following week and saw two tiny foetuses. We told our parents but no one else until after 12 weeks, when the threat of miscarriage lessens considerably. but we still didn’t mention IVF. that remained our secret until after they were born.
‘I was so thrilled to be pregnant, that I wished myself all the usual symptoms.
‘but unlike many women, who feel very tired and sick during the early weeks, I felt absolutely fine. but after three months, it all came in a rush. I felt sick, had terrible headaches and was really tired. I also went from having a stomach as flat as a pancake at 20 weeks to looking as if I was full-term for a normal pregnancy.’
The twins were induced at 37 weeks at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in West London. Gabby was in labour for nearly a day-and-a-half. Reuben was born first, followed by Lois, 16 minutes later.
Gabby recalls: ‘she was breech and a paediatrician was on standby in case she didn’t breathe straight away, but she was fine.
‘it all went according to plan until the drama started. I began losing blood. I am not sure exactly what caused it, but haemorrhaging is a possible side effect of a multiple birth.’ Gabby had to stay in hospital for six days.
Once the twins were home – the family live in Richmond, South-West London – her life changed dramatically. ‘I loved being with the babies and at first didn’t work loads,’ she smiles. ‘I was presenting ITV’s the Champions League every two or three weeks, which was working out fine.’
But within a year, she was effectively squeezed out. she believes it was the result of a personality clash with an executive.
‘I managed to separate my working and domestic life,’ she says. ‘I wanted to be mum for my babies and give them loads of love. Then, when they were asleep, Kenny and I would talk about what I should do professionally.
‘When you have a job in the public eye and there is a certain amount of pressure, you have to make sure you like what you do. I said to myself that, from then on, I only wanted to do stuff I really enjoyed and work with nice people.’
Her solution was to move to the BBC and widen her career to take in politics and news as well as sport.
Having more children hasn’t been such an easy decision. she reveals: ‘We have three more fertilised eggs available that were frozen from our first course of IVF. but at the moment, we can’t decide whether to go through it all again.
‘I had hoped that having gone through IVF once we would fall pregnant again naturally, so the decision would be taken from us. but it hasn’t happened. It’s a difficult one.’
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