The woman and her daughter
A woman from Chelmsford who suffered six miscarriages finally had her baby girl after Colchester Zoo’s late and much-loved orangutan Rajang kissed her swollen belly through the glass.
Nina Marston, 37, from Boreham, had suffered heartbreak after heartbreak with six miscarriages over a four-year period and “struggled to see” pregnant women.
The marketing manager had “always wanted a family“, and was puzzled as to why she couldn’t have a baby.
‘I always wanted a family’
“Seeing pregnant women was difficult. Every time I saw someone it was hard because I always wanted a family,” Nina explained.
“Even with my friends it was hard. My friends are so supportive but sometimes I didn’t want to see them and they would understand. When their babies came along, that completely vanished but I really struggled seeing pregnant women. I tried not to let it show but it’s very hard.
“It’s a lot easier to be jealous of other people who you don’t know rather than your friends.”
Nina suffered her first miscarriage shortly before her 12-week scan but was determined to try again.
The 37-year-old said: “The first miscarriage was a surprise, we didn’t find out until the day before 12-week scan. The next two were difficult and then after that, you just want to know what’s wrong.
“I talk quite openly about it and tell my friends just to treat me as normal. When I went back to work after my miscarriages, I told my colleagues not to be really nice to me. I’m happy to talk about it, people don’t have to pussy-foot around me.”
Doctors were determined to get to the bottom of Nina’s heartache and finally Nina had the answer she was looking for.
The mum from Boreham discovered she had ‘killer cells’, which is when the body attempts to get rid of things it thinks shouldn’t be there due to the high levels of antibodies.
It often attacks and kills the embryo as it is seen as a foreign organism.
“I had never heard of killer cells before but it tries to get rid of what it thinks shouldn’t be there,” Nina explained.
“The staff at Broomfield Hospital were fantastic but for the first miscarriages you have to wait until to take a fertility test. I understand why but I just couldn’t go through it again.
“When we actually got to the problem, the staff were excellent, they wouldn’t give up at all. It was hard to speak to friends about it.”
Nina was put on medication and eventually became pregnant for the seventh time with her husband Lee.
“During my seventh pregnancy, I worried about everything, what I ate, what I drank,” she said.
“You do get bleeding at the beginning but I was in a constant state of worry. I paid for extra scans so we weren’t waiting too long inbetween.
“You know it’s going to be fine but there is always that little but of doubt in the back of your head.”
In a bid to try and settle her nerves, Nina visited Colchester Zoo- a place she has loved since she was a toddler – and paid a visit to Rajang.
She continued: “I’ve been going to the zoo since I was four and five and Rajang was always my favourite.
“I go to the zoo probably once or twice a year now, I used to go along with my sister-in-law and I got her really involved in loving the zoo and Rajang and I saw him each time I went.
“When I had my first miscarriage, we went to Norfolk and we went to the zoo. It’s a place where I can switch off.
“During my seventh pregnancy, I went with my friend and we just decided to go for a walk and get the baby moving so we decided to walk miles around the zoo.
“We got to Rajang’s enclosure and there was a massive queue, but my friend was patient and waited with me until there was a gap.
“I lifted up my top to show him my belly and he shuffled along the side and just gave it a big kiss. I just cried.
“It was such an emotional moment, it was only a small thing but it meant a lot to me. I have seen him do it many times to people and I just always thought it was so lovely. I would have been devastated if he hadn’t done it. There were things I wanted to do while I was pregnant and that was one of them.
“He’s not that interested in kids, my godson tried but he wasn’t interested. Rajang did do it to my husband’s belly once though.”
To Nina and Lee’s delight, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl in November 2017, named Elizabeth, who Nina calls her ‘lucky number seven’.
Sadly, yesterday (December 13), Colchester Zoo sadly announced the death of 50-year-old Rajang, who proved to be a lucky charm when he planted a huge kiss on Nina’s swollen belly.
He passed away after suffering from chronic arthritis and other health problems that come with old age.