A woman has overcome a lifelong phobia of hospitals to become a first-time mum – at the age of 40.
Nervous Deborah Smith suffered an horrific trip to the dentist when she was just 11 and lived in fear of other operations.
Diagnosed with a heart condition that a routine op would fix – Deborah chose to take blood thinning drugs despite warnings they might cause complications if she fell pregnant.
But she decided to conquer her phobia when she met the love of her life Gary Bryson, 41, and realised she wanted to have children.
Council worker Deborah finally braved an operation for her heart condition and then immediately started trying for a baby.
And to her delight she fell pregnant and gave birth to baby Heather in May this year.
Deborah, now 41, said: “I went to the dentist to have some baby teeth removed and I remember him pushing the mask on my face so hard he burst the blood vessels in my nose and eyes.
“I remember trying to scream to my mum but she didn’t hear me. It was terrifying.
“Ever since then going into an operating theatre has not been an option for me – even talking about it made me agitated.
“I’d resigned myself to never having children but when I met Gary I knew I wanted children with him and that meant facing up to my fear.
Deborah’s phobia had never caused her any problems until she returned from a round the world trip seven years ago.
Soon after she began to feel lethargic and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation which caused her to have an irregular heartbeat.
Deborah resigned herself to a life on a complex mix of medication including beta blockers and warfarin to help control her heart beat.
But everything changed five years ago when she met exam assessor Gary on a dating website.
Deborah confronted her fear in August 2010 and underwent radio frequency ablation, an operation which uses a catheter and radio frequencies in the heart to correct the fault.
She added: “The doctors had to give me medication to calm me down before they gave me the anaesthetic and Gary had to walk into the operating theatre with me.
“Afterwards I was sat up in bed wide awake and the doctor came in and was amazed because he said he had given me enough anaesthetic to knock out a horse.
“But I was so full of adrenaline it didn’t affect me that much.”
Deborah, of Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, finally came off the medication early last year and just a few months later fell pregnant.
Heather was born weighing a healthy eight pounds via an emergency section following a six-day labour.
Deborah said: “I ended up having emergency section so I could have lost a lot of blood if I had been on blood thinners.
“I had my first contraction on the Friday and they finally decided to induce me on the Thursday because Heather was beginning to get distressed.
“Other than that I had a brilliant pregnancy. Heather was born weighing eight pounds and, to look at her now, I can’t believe she was ever that small.
“Heather is such a beautiful girl, she has changed my life in so many ways and all of them for the better. I couldn’t be happier.”
“If you’d asked me five years ago that I would be with Gary and we would have beautiful baby girl I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m very happy.”