I RISKED PARALYSIS TO HAVE MY BABY DAUGHTER- MIRROR NEWSPAPER- NOVEMBER 2008

Annabelle Baker contacted us to sell the story about how she was told having a baby could paralyse her for life.

We sold the story on Annabelle's behalf to the Daily Mirror newspaper.

Annabelle is thrilled by the article and the payment.

The article has also been sold to a magazine to get Annabelle another payment.

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ANNABELLE'S CHOICE: ABORT YOUR BABY OR NEVER WALK AGAIN.

DAILY MIRROR NEWSPAPER

Exclusive: Having to decide between terminating your baby or being paralysed for life, sounds impossible. But for Annabelle Baker, 33, her choice was instant

As she walked into hospital two days after discovering she was pregnant with her first child, Annabelle Baker's head was filled with thoughts of scans and birth plans.

But that day she was there for a different reason to hear the results of a series of tests on her neck, which had grown increasingly painful over the past two years.

Understandably, she'd been eager to discover the root of the problem but as her neurosurgeon spoke, she froze in shock.

"The doctor said I needed immediate brain and neck surgery," says Annabelle, of Poulton-Le-Fylde, Lancashire. "Without the operation, I could end up paralysed, in a wheelchair for life. But there was no way I could have the operation while pregnant."

It was a stark choice terminate her much wanted pregnancy or risk paralysis.

Despite the grim diagnosis, she forced herself to remain positive. "Outside I turned to my husband Brett and told him what a relief it was that I wouldn't have to have the operation," she says.

"He was stunned and asked me whether I'd listened to the doctor. He reminded me that I could end up paralysed.

"He was in tears in the car on the way home, but I just went into denial."

Back home, her family tried to make her realise the gravity of the situation but Annabelle had made up her mind. "There was no way I was willing to terminate the pregnancy," she says. "I wanted this baby so much."

When Annabelle informed her doctor, they worriedly told her that the option of a termination was going to be kept open until the latest possible opportunity in case she changed her mind.

But she was determined to keep her baby, whether it landed her in a wheelchair or not.

Annabelle's problems started when her mum Linda had cancer. "I began suffering painful headaches and a stiff neck," she says.

"But I was so frantic with worry about my mum, the last thing I wanted to do was worry anyone about how I was feeling."

As months went by, the pain worsened until she became unable to move her neck and suffered with dizzy spells.

Sports-mad, she was forced to give up netball, hockey and her favourite hobby, trampolining.

Despite physiotherapy, her condition worsened and her GP referred her to a bone doctor. But, despite more tests, the problem remained a mystery.

Sadly, Annabelle's mum eventually lost her battle with cancer. Shortly afterwards, Annabelle's grandmother also died.

The following year, Annabelle and Brett went on holiday to Paris and during the trip, they conceived their first child.

"We were thrilled," she says. "After losing mum and nana, we thought it would be a fresh start for us. We even started discussing baby names."

But their joy was short-lived. Two days after discovering she was pregnant, Annabelle had the appointment with her neurosurgeon, during which he broke the devastating news of her condition.

"He said that I had Arnold-Chiari malformation, which is when the back of the brain extends down into the upper spinal canal," she says. "As a result, a cyst of spinal fluid had developed at the top of my spinal cord."

Without surgery to correct both problems, Annabelle could be paralysed, possibly from the neck down.

"But the doctors weren't sure what would happen," she says. "They'd never dealt with anyone who had been pregnant while needing such an operation."

Despite her determination to have her baby, Annabelle found the pregnancy hard.

"I thought I was in control, but came crashing down to reality when I was four months' pregnant," she says. "I hadn't been able to sleep properly for weeks as my neck was causing me so much pain.

"One day I went to see the midwife for a check-up and all my grief, confusion, fear and exhaustion came out in one mighty emotional outpour."

Annabelle's doctor signed her off work and told her to do nothing but rest and recuperate.