Authors: Chanelle Hayes
‘That’s not possible, Chanelle. I’ve already told the reception staff to call an ambulance and a community police officer will be here soon, in case you refuse to go.’
This was simply unbelievable. I was about to be taken off to a padded cell, just for getting upset over a fight with my unborn child’s father. Hardly a sign of raving bloody insanity, was it?
Trying not to let the panic show in my voice, I said, ‘I need to phone my parents. Let me speak to them.’
She did, at least, allow me to make the call but Mum was so stunned that she passed me on to Dad, who clearly didn’t fully understand the severity of my situation.
‘Well, there’s nothing we can do if you’ve gone in there in such a state, is there? Just get yourself checked over and I’m sure it’ll all be fine later.’
Great! Thanks for that, Dad. Really helpful. So I phoned my
mum’s sister, my Aunty Susan, who is one of the nicest people in the world. She and Mum finish each other’s sentences and probably speak five times a day and I love her to bits. In fact, she and my Uncle Paul are just like Mum and Dad but from a different village.
Anyway, Aunty Susan said she’d come straight to the doctor’s but, by the time she arrived, it was too late. I’d been carted out and taken by ambulance to Fieldhead Hospital, in Wakefield – a renowned mental-health facility. I know it sounds awful but Fieldhead used to be the butt of our jokes at school. It was known as the local loony bin; where all the crazy people go – and now I was being treated like one of them.
The paramedic led me out of the doctor’s by my arm and I tried to shrug him off, saying, ‘Why are you doing that? I’m perfectly capable to walk by myself.’
‘Well, you’ve been sectioned,’ he said. ‘You might be a little unstable.’
‘I certainly am not unstable,’ I replied. ‘I just happen to be pregnant and have an ex-boyfriend who’s being a bastard. But if we’d had this argument yesterday, you wouldn’t even know about it.’
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘but there’s nothing you can do and, if you resist coming with us, you’ll be arrested.’
Over at Fieldhead, I was admitted to a tiny, claustrophobic room, which could make even the sanest person alive feel like some kind of lunatic. It was terrifying. I sat there for six hours in a room with no windows, no light switches and nothing remotely sharp. There wasn’t even a handle on my side of the door. Everything was smooth and flat so you couldn’t hurt yourself.
My Aunty Susan eventually turned up but I told her to go home, as they’d said it would be hours until I was assessed. And I just sat on the bed thinking, ‘What did I do in a previous life to
deserve this?’ There was a camera in the room focused on me all the time and, despite me being about 20 weeks pregnant, I was given nothing to eat all day. All I had was a glass of water and nobody came to see if I was OK. That really was enough to send you stir crazy.
Eventually, this nice doctor with kind eyes came to assess me. He asked me a ton of questions, like, ‘How are you feeling?’ and, ‘How do you feel about your baby?’
I basically told him what I’d said to my GP – albeit in a much calmer manner – and that I would never harm my child in a billion years.
After a few seconds, he stood up and said, ‘Well, I’m very sorry but you shouldn’t have been brought here. We need to get you discharged as soon as possible.’ Thank Christ someone had a bit of common sense here! ‘It was obviously a very extreme measure and all I can do is apologise.’
‘Thank you,’ I said, so grateful I could have hugged him. ‘I know it’s nothing to do with you but the way I’ve been treated is a complete disgrace.’
He nodded. ‘I will follow it up because it’s been a waste of our time too and taken up a room that we could potentially have assigned to another patient.’
Looking back on that encounter, I’m still appalled by it. I know the NHS is brilliant and I’ve always championed it but, to this day, I can’t understand how I was put in that position. I guess my doctor was only trying to cover her own back because, if I had done something silly, it would have been a big news story. She was probably on red alert because it had been in the papers when I’d tried to kill myself the summer before. So I do understand it from her point of view, but to be dragged off to a mental institution like that was an epic overreaction. I have suffered minor bouts of depression since then but now I would never go
and see a GP about it because I’m sure they’d try and make out I was clinically insane again. I’ve lost trust in the system, which is such a shame.
The doctor told me I was free to leave but it wasn’t that simple. ‘My car is still at the doctor’s,’ I said. ‘And all my money and my house keys are in my bag, which I locked in the boot.’
‘Right,’ said the doctor. ‘We’ll have to get you a police escort home then.’
That was a shambles too because, when the police car pulled up at the surgery, the gates to the car park were locked.
‘I have to get those gates open,’ I told him. ‘I can’t get into my house otherwise.’
Glancing up at the barbed wire reeled across the gates, the policeman said, ‘Nope, you won’t be getting in there tonight. Can you stay elsewhere?’
He took me to my neighbour Lisa’s house and, sometime later, Mum dropped off a spare set of house keys. What a nightmare day. In the four years since then, I’ve only ever told a couple of my friends about it because I found the whole thing so embarrassing and demeaning. And I never told Matt because I was certain he would have really gone to town with it.
Still, as I was soon to discover, my troubles with him were far from over.
bout five months into my pregnancy, when I was feeling rotten, alone and very vulnerable, I had a surprising and very random text from this guy called Jack Tweed. He’d become quite well known, mostly because he was married to Jade Goody. Jade was a former
housemate like me and had died tragically of cervical cancer on Mother’s Day the previous year, leaving behind two young sons, Freddie and Bobby. She died just six weeks after marrying Jack and he was completely devastated by it.
Jack had worked in nightclub promotion and I’d seen him around at events once or twice in the past but that was all. He was best mates with
Mark Wright, although that show hadn’t even started by this point. I wasn’t really a fan of that whole Essex crowd though and I used to see Mark a lot in Embassy nightclub because he was friends with the guys at Neon Management, my agency. I personally found Mark really sleazy. He was always offering to buy me drinks but I thought he was a bit of wet lettuce and looked really old!
Jack, who was six months older than me, had got my number from one of the agents at Neon and his first text hardly blew me away: ‘Alright, babe?’ it said.
‘Er, hi,’ I replied. ‘Whose number is this?’
‘It’s Jack Tweed. What are you up to?’
What else could I say? It was extremely weird but we carried on texting – just inane banter to begin with but, as I said, I was lonely and craving company. Being pregnant, I was knackered a lot of the time and every day at 5pm I’d lie on the sofa and watch
Deal or No Deal
. Then Jack started watching it too at his home down in Essex and we’d text back and forth all the way through it.
It had been reported in the celeb mags by now that I was pregnant with Matt’s child and I assumed Jack knew. But it turns out he had no idea. Because I’d been so sick in the early stages of pregnancy, I was still hardly showing, so I looked totally normal in recent photos. People had even accused me of faking the whole baby thing for publicity. As if I’d be so desperate to do anything like that.
But I was also clueless about what was going on in Jack’s life at the time. I had no idea he was up on a rape charge. Perhaps I’d been living in a bubble with all the drama in my own life but, somehow, this news had passed me by.
As our friendly text exchanges continued, I mentioned to Jack that I was going to London for a couple of days on a photo-shoot and he said, ‘Can I take you out for a meal when you’re down?’
‘I’m not sure, I’ll have to think about it,’ I said. It really was an odd situation to find myself in and I couldn’t work out how I felt about it.
I turned to Mum for some advice: ‘Do you think it would be really bad if I went out on a date while I’m pregnant?’
She thought for about a couple of seconds. ‘You’ve had nothing but misery lately. Why not go out and have some fun? Let someone make you feel nice and special for a change.’
So I agreed and, on the day of our ‘date’, Jack said he’d pick me up from my friend Jenny’s in London at 1.30pm. But he was really late and turned up in a taxi.
‘Erm, where’s your car?’ I said.
‘Oh, yeah, I don’t drive. I thought we could go out in your car.’
Great start, Jack. He’d also turned up in a flat cap and he was clutching a huge golfing umbrella. He looked daft and straight away I started taking the mickey out of him.
‘Going for the country-gent look, are you?’ I joked. ‘Anyway, where are we going?’
When we got there, it was pouring with rain, so we didn’t stay long. As we got back in my car, a text beeped in from his mum, Mary. He read it and then said slowly, ‘Are you pregnant?’
‘Er, yes,’ I replied. ‘About five months. Did you not know? I thought you would have Googled me before we met up.’
‘Well, I think my mum’s just been Googling you.’
Trying to carry on the date as normally as possible, we went to Camden Market. I was trying to make casual conversation and he bought me a body scrub – which I hate because it rubs my fake tan off!
Then we went to Gilgamesh, a trendy Asian restaurant, for an early dinner, at which point Jack said, ‘Do you mind if my friends join us?’
‘No, that’s fine,’ I said, quite relieved to have other people around to help break the ice.
When his mates showed up, it was Arg and Lydia from
. My first thought was how enormous Arg was but they were really nice and we ended up having a good time.
I dropped them all home in Essex and later Jack sent me a brief, formal text: ‘Thanks for the lift.’
‘Hmm,’ I thought. ‘This is never going to go anywhere’.
I didn’t realise he was quite shy at that point but he texted again later. ‘I wanted to give you a kiss goodbye but I was too embarrassed in front of Arg and Lydia. Do you think you might come down again?’
This was a turn-up for the books. ‘I didn’t think you’d had a good time,’ I said.
‘No, I enjoyed myself. Why don’t you come down to our house and stay some time?’
I said I’d think about it. I still had no idea that Jack was facing criminal charges and it was only when I was telling Zoe about my day out that I discovered what was going on.
‘You do know that Jack’s going on trial for rape, don’t you?’ Zoe said.
‘What are you on about?’ I said, thinking it couldn’t be true. It was certainly not something Jack was singing from the rooftops. But I went online and saw exactly what Zoe was talking about. Back in September 2009, Jack and his friend Anthony had been accused by a teenage girl of taking her from a London club back home to Essex and then forcing themselves on her. Soon after I met Jack, they were both acquitted for rape but, by then, he’d spent a lot of time on remand in Pentonville Prison, a harrowing experience that affected him terribly. He was severely bullied by the other prisoners and one of them even threatened to steal his wedding ring. In later months, Jack told how he was so destroyed by his time in jail that he contemplated suicide. ‘If I’d had a gun, I would have shot myself in the head without a question,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t handle it.’
When I came into the picture, Jack was still awaiting the trial and, though he didn’t ever want to talk about it, I really felt for
him and what he was going through. As far as I was concerned, everyone is innocent until proven guilty – and the guy I was getting to know didn’t appear capable of rape at all. To me, he seemed quite gentle and lost, like a little boy. Despite winning the case, it was a bit of a hollow victory for Jack, as the whole case had understandably ruined his life. People still call him a rapist today, despite the fact that he walked out a free man. It’s such a vile word and I know how sensitive he is about it. Sadly, mud sticks though, regardless of him being acquitted. I think it’s appalling that Jack still feels the weight of the trial.
Jack’s situation when I was getting to know him meant that he had to wear a police tag and stick to strict curfews at home. It made sense then that he’d asked me to go down to Essex and stay with him. I agreed to go because I felt he needed some support – and, let’s face it, so did I.
I know some people think I was mad for getting involved with someone awaiting trial for such a serious crime but we were both so fucked up. He was still heartbroken after losing Jade and I was heartbroken because I’d split up with my long-term boyfriend and the father of my unborn child. We both just craved love and some stability so, in some ways, we were perfect for each other.
Hopefully, this explains why we just jumped into it straight away. We were both needy and scared of being on our own. My confidence was also desperately low and, being pregnant and on my own, my options seemed frighteningly limited. I feared no guy would ever accept me with someone else’s child in tow.
When I went down to his family’s home in Essex, I met his mum Mary and dad, Andy, and they were so welcoming. Mary got me a jar of pickles, in case I was craving them (although I wasn’t) and she’d bought new bedding from John Lewis for the spare room, where I was obviously sleeping on my own.
The morning after I arrived, Jack went to the gym and, as I sat down at the table with Mary, she said, ‘Jack’s never taken any girl out on a date apart from Jade. He obviously likes you.’ Apparently this was true – although he’d been with a lot of girls, he never took them for a meal or anything.
Of course, we’d had to broach the subject of me being pregnant. Although Jack didn’t want to dwell on it, he seemed completely OK with it – probably because I told him I didn’t speak to the baby’s dad any more. I suppose he wasn’t fazed either because he’d spent so long with Jade and her boys, whose dad was the reality-TV star Jeff Brazier.
The second evening I was there, Jack’s friends all came round to the house because his electronic tag meant he couldn’t stay out late. They put on a bit of an impromptu karaoke party and everyone had a go at singing, even his mum and dad. It was a lovely, fun night.
When I left to go back home after a couple of days, Jack walked me to my car and that’s when we had our first kiss. It felt right. But in case you’re wondering, we never slept together at all while I was pregnant – I think that would have been disgusting. It never really came up in conversation and, despite his reputation, I think Jack did have respect for me on that matter – even if it was frustrating for him.
After that visit, I started spending a lot of time with Jack in Essex, usually around three days of every week. We were getting on really well but, on one occasion, I had a shocking scare while I was with him and his family. Still in my own separate bedroom, I woke up to find the sheets stained with blood. It was so frightening. I was convinced I was having a miscarriage. Shaking with fear, I woke Jack’s mum and she drove me straight to hospital. When we got there, I was silent and just felt like an empty shell. If I lost my baby, my life may as well be over too.
There were several other people waiting in A&E but I was rushed straight to the front of the queue. You always know it’s bad when that happens and straight away I was hooked up to a load of monitors. Pretty quickly, the doctors told me I’d gone into very early labour and that there was no way the baby could survive being born at this stage. They started giving me steroids to try and stop the labour, which they said was happening because, for some inexplicable reason, my body was trying to get rid of the baby.
Although Jack couldn’t face coming to the hospital after what he’d been through during Jade’s illness the previous year, Mary and Andy were complete lifesavers. They brought me food in a picnic basket at every mealtime and Mary sat chatting with me and reassuring me for hours on end. I’ve never met two people who were so selfless and, when Mum dashed down to see me, they welcomed her into their home and drove her back and forth to the hospital every day. I can never thank them enough for that.
When the drugs began to take hold, the labour process stopped and the doctors’ visits became less and less frequent, which I took to be a good sign. Eventually, after five agonising days, one of the female specialists came to see me and said, ‘Everything is fine. You are going to be a high-risk pregnancy from now on but the baby is fine.’
Those were surely the greatest words I’d ever heard. ‘Thank you so much for saving my baby,’ I sobbed with relief. ‘I’ll always be grateful.’
‘You’re welcome,’ she said with a smile. ‘You can go home now but you mustn’t do any strenuous activity or allow any knocks to your stomach.’
‘Of course not,’ I vowed. Nothing was going to harm my baby now. All the time I’d been in hospital I’d been feeling guilty that perhaps doing a few gentle routines with my personal trainer
while pregnant had brought on the labour. After that scare, I decided I’d never risk it again.
Soon afterwards, I had another bleeding episode during a photo-shoot with
magazine. It was then that I knew I had to slow down with work too. Waking up at 3am to drive down to London and not getting back until 11pm was too much. My body was clearly telling me, ‘Stop now.’
At that point, I decided not to stay down in Essex any more either. I needed to be near my own friends and family. It was hard because it meant I’d see much less of Jack but I had to put my baby first.
As I’d feared though, my moving back up north full time soon began to take a toll on our relationship. On the one hand, he’d send me lovely, caring texts and, on the occasions he came up to Wakefield, he’d tenderly kiss my stomach as if he imagined it was his baby inside. It felt lovely to know someone wanted this child with me. And I knew he deeply missed seeing Jade’s sons, Freddie and Bobby.
But on the flip side, things would be dreadful between us at other times because, when he was back in Essex, he’d go out, get drunk and cop off with some girl in a club on a Friday night. I’d read about it in the papers and online and go mad but he’d always come back to me, saying how sorry he was. I felt I couldn’t really judge him because we weren’t living together in any normal capacity and, after being found not-guilty in the rape ordeal, he needed to let loose. That was his coping mechanism. But as you can see, it was hardly a fairy-tale romance.
As I settled into the late stages of pregnancy, I suddenly blew up like a bouncy castle and became absolutely gigantic! I’d been so teeny in the beginning but now I was wearing huge maternity clothes. I joked that my arms looked like legs and my face looked like my arse! And although my shoe size is normally a
five, I was wearing size-seven flip-flops at my baby shower. But even then the bloody things burst open under the pressure of my swollen toes!
My expanding bump caused chronic sciatica, which ruined a holiday in Greece with my friend Jenny. The plan was to have a last-minute bit of R&R but I cried for five days non-stop because my back was so bad. I couldn’t lie down or get up, or even go to the toilet.
Getting so big and out of my comfort zone was tough and often downright painful but it was funny, in a way, because my attitude towards my body completely changed. In the past, I would have rather died than look like the heifer I’d become but I’d realised it wasn’t about me any more. There was another life inside me and that was all that mattered. I still feel that way now as a mum. Being a bit heavier these days is a small price to pay for having a child and nowadays I never get too hung up on it. Quite simply, motherhood is the greatest gift in life and, if that means carrying a few extra pounds, so be it!