My mother was shocked when I told her that I was pregnant with my third baby. She was not expecting the general joy and parade with a full marching band, but she was worried. ‘That’ll be me worried for the next nine months,’ she blurted out.

I was offended by her response. I was experiencing a simple joy, but my condition was a source for nagging anxiety.

I didn’t get it back then. Instead I felt guilt that I was causing her worry and slightly resentful that she’d visited it upon me.

Forward on 30-odd years and it’s Mother’s Day. My eldest daughter is on the phone and just as we’re saying goodbye, she casually drops into the conversation that she might be a ‘little bit’ pregnant. My partner came downstairs and I yelp so loudly that she can’t stop laughing.

Marion McGilvary (pictured) admits that she felt quite offended when her mother said she would be worrying throughout her pregnancy

Marion McGilvary (pictured), admits she was offended that her mother said she would worry throughout her pregnancy

To say that I was thrilled is an understatement. I’d resigned myself to the fact that none of my children wanted families and beyond a fleeting wisp of regret, I wasn’t too bothered.

I’d raised four kids who had all made regular forays back to the hotel de mama, one with a wife in tow, and the youngest had only recently checked out and moved into her own flat.

I didn’t feel I needed a grandchild to complete me. I already had all the Brownie badges to help me mother and adding to them was not on my priority list. Heck, I didn’t even want the responsibility of a dog, let alone an infant to coo over. I was beyond thrilled. I even started knitting.

Then, something more unexpected happened. The worry set in.

It wasn’t much to begin with, just that occasional little niggle at the back of my mind, like a pot left on the stove that needed stirring every now and then.

Of course, that’s not so unusual in the first months, which are always fraught with uncertainty — but then, the worry didn’t let up. It still gurgled away in the background during the day and occasionally kept me awake at night, my thoughts circling around those oh-so-rare-but-they-happen times when colleagues and friends had suffered tragedies.

I didn’t worry about my mother like she did. My role was to be reassuring, calm, and to celebrate my daughter’s successes.

It definitely wasn’t my daughter’s job to allay my fears, as I’d felt duty bound to do when I was pregnant with her.

But I had to talk to someone. It was amazing to me how much those fingers gripped me with apprehension, more than when the babies were mine. Was it just me?

Marion (pictured) said you have to think good thoughts and realise that all the fretting in the world does no good and does not affect the outcome

Marion (pictured) said that you must think positive thoughts and accept that all the worrying in the world is useless and will not affect the outcome.

I took the question to my modern-day confessor — social media — where I exclude my kids and have the grand total of about ten friends and ten other people I hardly know yet am on daily intimate terms with (yes, I’m that popular).

Am I being irrational? I asked.

The answer was no. Ping, pin, pin, came the instant messages one by one. Some people worried with good reasons, it turned out. Others were unable to control their emotions, but they all worried about themselves.

One friend said that it was worse to watch her daughter go through labor than to actually go through it. Another agonised over the thought she could not protect the daughter, to whom she’d devoted her life.

We keep them safe from harm, pain and heartbreak but when we see them becoming mothers themselves we realise there’s nothing more we can do.

I told myself to get my act together. Every time I went out, I’d see women pushing prams and reassure myself everything would be fine. If I believed God, I would have prayed. I did pray anyway. I briefly considered the possibility of carrying a Hand of Fatima necklace and a blue anti-evil eye bead in my handbag. This was one of the baby gifts my daughter had received from her Arab Arab family when she was born.

I pulled myself together and reminded myself that my superstition was not a problem. And anyway, I couldn’t find them.

You have to trust at some point. You must think positive thoughts and realize that worrying about the future will not make it better.

Marion (pictured) said she dropped everything when her own daughter gave birth, then found out she wasn't able to see her because she had tested positive for covid.

Marion (pictured), said that she gave up everything to have her daughter, Marion, give birth. However, Marion discovered that she was unable to see her daughter because she had tested positive in covid. 

It is not useful to recall the real-life events that went wrong for others. These are not cautionary tales and it seems discourteous to regard them as such. Whatever the outcome, I realized that wringing my hands as Lady Macbeth did not help nor seem to be helpful.

But as my daughter’s due date grew close, I began to get twitchier than ever. Was she okay? Would it be a long and difficult labor? Is it manageable? She was my baby, I didn’t want her to suffer.

The due date passed. I stayed up clutching my phone for the next week and fell asleep every night. I’d wake in the night and stalk her on Twitter and WhatsApp to see when she was last online, trying to figure out if her absence or presence meant she was in labour.

You don’t want someone constantly checking in on your baby when it is past due. So I did it stealthily by calling her father, her siblings, and giving myself one phone call every three working days. The worry was rampant, running wild and gnawing at my face with sharp little teeth.

In the end, two weeks ago, I discovered I had a grandson as I walked off the bus in London where I’d gone for work. By text. There was a picture of a squished-up little scrap only minutes old in his beatific mother’s arms.

I immediately dropped everything and rushed home to gather provisions for the hospital — but to my horror I couldn’t see her. I was denied entry.

She was in a private room and allowed no visitors, not even her partner, because mystifyingly — and terrifyingly — she had tested positive for Covid.

For all my fretting, this was an eventuality I hadn’t factored in. I’d assumed that once my daughter was in hospital, the labour over, all would be well and my worries would subside. But they have skyrocketed.

Marion (pictured), who met her grandchild last week, said she is so proud of her daughter and how she coped while battling covid

Marion (pictured), who met her grandson last week, said that she is proud of her daughter and how well she managed to cope with covidence. 

She had been living apart from her partner for several weeks prior to giving birth and had seen only the midwife. Yet still, somehow, she had Covid — and a newborn with her. I wasted all that energy worrying about bad outcomes and the bogeyman slipped in the backdoor.

Worry? Ha! Now I laugh at worry. It was nothing compared to the grim fear she felt for the ten days she was in quarantine. I read that pregnant and ‘recently pregnant’ women were more likely to get ‘severely ill’ from Covid than non-pregnant women, and wished I hadn’t Googled.

I was unable to see the baby and her mother through the window, so the hospital sent her home. It was even more painful, as I wanted to hug everyone. FaceTime is not a substitute for touch. Every day, I held my breathe in case of a cough, sneeze, or flickering of an eyebrow.

I stared at my phone, transfixed, and wished I could wave my magic wand and remove all stress from my daughter.

To stop myself phoning every five minute, chain-smoking imaginary cigarettes, I sat on both my hands.

We were very fortunate. Her partner, baby, and she were all healthy. The adults had been twice-vaccinated, and it seems that very few babies contract Covid. I twitched to rush in and help, but in fact, I think my daughter enjoyed that time alone in the cocoon of her new little family — they got to bond in a way they might not have had people been tramping in and out of their house.

She coped amazingly well, and I am so proud of her — she only saw a midwife once in that time and had none of the usual health visitor visits.

Thankfully, apart from exhaustion, they’re now all thriving (touch wood, salt over the shoulder.)

Last week was day 11. On day 11, she was finally out from isolation. I was able cuddle my daughter and the baby. I held him for over an hour, wishing that my mother was there to witness the moment.

It has been 20 years since she was last here, but I can still recall the look on her sweet, wee face when I told them I was pregnant. And now, I realize that I am now able to understand.

She would have loved to see her great-grandson. She wanted a baby with red hair.