Tommy's, the baby charity launches its new campaign #misCOURAGE today with the aim to break the silence around miscarriage. Here's my story.
After every one of my miscarriages, a friend would try and comfort me with the words, 'it was so early, they weren't really babies'. I know she was trying to help, but it was the worst possible thing to say.
I didn't tell her, of course, miscarriage is such an awkward conversation, people don't know what to say. I wouldn't have known what to say before going through the heartbreak of five miscarriages myself.
I gave birth to my first son, Daniel, in August 2009. My pregnancy was problem free and he arrived naturally at 36 weeks.
My husband Saul and I decided to start trying again when Daniel was nine months old. Again, I got pregnant quickly but I couldn't shake the feeling something was wrong.
At my six week scan the sonographer told me he could only see an empty sac. He tried to reassure me, perhaps I'd got my dates wrong, but I left in floods of tears because, in my heart, I knew it wasn't going to end well. Four days later I started to bleed.
I had no idea what to do. My GP got me an appointment at Watford General's early pregnancy unit but their scanners had shut down for the day and an internal exam couldn't confirm whether I was having a miscarriage.
I felt so confused. I asked what would happen if I was miscarrying and was told that if I passed anything I should save it for testing. I didn't even get a leaflet or any guidance.
I lay in bed sobbing, bleeding and suffering terrible cramps. Eventually I called a friend's sister who had miscarried and she told me what to expect.
It was a devastating experience but I put it down to bad luck and started trying again.
Four months later I was pregnant but, again, felt something wasn't right and at five weeks I started to bleed.
My GP said I shouldn't worry, I was still young, but I asked to be referred to a private obstetrician. Despite a barrage of blood tests there was no obvious reason for my miscarriages.
Three months later I was pregnant again but there was no elation, no joy, just nerves. Hearing my baby's heartbeat at a six week scan was wonderful but two weeks later I started spotting. It was around Christmas time so I struggled to get an appointment but I managed to get scanned on December 27. Although my baby had a heartbeat it wasn't as big as it should be. The consultant said, 'While there's a heartbeat, there's hope,' but I started to bleed heavily that night.
I was totally destroyed. I couldn't blame bad luck anymore so I tortured myself. Had carrying my son caused my miscarriage? Had I eaten too much chocolate?
I went to see another private obstetrician and she agreed to prescribe progesterone pessaries when I next conceived.
By February I was pregnant but, at five weeks, I lost the baby. I was heartbroken but also angry. The doctors couldn't give me any answers and I was almost desperate for them to find something wrong, so we could fix it.
I booked an appointment with a private fertility clinic in London and I also persuaded my doctor to test for natural killer cells after reading about research in the US that discovered some women's immune systems see the foetus as a foreign object and attack it.
Tests showed I had raised levels of these cells and I was prescribed steroids.
By the time my appointment at the clinic came through, I was six weeks pregnant and already using the pessaries, along with steroids, Clexane and aspirin.
I remember calling my mum just before taking my pregnancy test to say I was probably on my way to miscarriage number five. I just couldn't get my hopes up again.
The clinic scanned me weekly and I had to go in for blood tests every two days to monitor my pregnancy levels. It was like living on a knife edge, taking the test in the morning then waiting for a call to say my baby was okay.
On January 4 Olly was born at 38 weeks and I couldn't really believe he was here. I'd waited so long. We had always wanted three children but, when we walked out of the hospital, I told my husband I couldn't go through it again.
I'd always been quite open about my miscarriages. I felt so confused and isolated and thought sharing my experience might make another woman feel less so. In the beginning I felt such a sense of failure, like it must be my fault. I believe that's a big part of the reason that women don't talk about miscarriage, it feels almost a source of shame.
That's why I ran the London Marathon for Tommy's in 2013. Their research is so important but, for me, maybe the way they highlight miscarriage is more so. We need to talk about it, stop brushing it under the carpet, only then will we get the support and the answers that we so desperately need.
After the marathon I decided I wanted to try for a third child but a positive pregnancy test one Friday morning was followed by a miscarriage over the weekend. I couldn't believe it was happening again.
Saul and I talked and decided to give it six months. Trying for a baby had taken over our lives and we couldn't go through the agony indefinitely. We were lucky to have our two beautiful boys.
Two months later I was pregnant again. We decided against the blood tests every other day, it was too stressful, and positive scans at six, eight then 10 weeks buoyed our hopes.
Amelia arrived naturally at 39 weeks in June 2014 and we were euphoric, our family was complete.
I remember all of my miscarriages vividly, it was the most devastating time of my life, but I think it makes me feel even luckier to have my three amazing children.Suggest a correction