My bump didn't carry a sign announcing my baby's probable fate to the world. I was still subjected to the usual barrage of questions and comments from well-meaning strangers. Strangers who were blissfully unaware of how hurtful their musings on and queries about my pregnancy were.
We've all heard those awful, painful stories of birth, of big babies and bulging bottoms, but does it really have to be like that? Programmes like One Born Every Minute might like you to think so, and those horror stories from your step-mother's best friend serve to only continue what has become in our culture The Thrill Surrounding The Fear of Birth.
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.
As part of the Tommy's #misCOURAGE campaign to encourage people to speak up, I am sharing my experience in the hope that it might make at least one other woman feel less isolated, and to show my support for others who have lost a pregnancy.
No amount of parenting books or NCT classes can give the slightest insight into what you are really letting yourself in for. The only people who truly know are those who have been there, done that and got the milk-stained T-shirt.
I am a tortured woman. I adore clothes, I love fashion and I look forward to updating my wardrobe with a few choice items every season. Autumn/Winter is my favourite! Not this year though. Nope, I am with child. Up the duffaroo.
Most of my conversations now revolve around being a dad, occasionally unusual topics such as is it OK to have a sit down wee if you're tired pop into conversation, but ultimately everything ends up circling back to parenting as if every road leads there. 'I love the new Ferrari......' 'its amazing, I wonder if you can get a buggy in?'
What I do know, is that when me and my tiny offspring needed them, they were there for us. Yes, there were times I was kept waiting. There were times I was told someone would be there in the morning and I didn't see them until the evening. But when we needed them, they were there.
Baby Loss Awareness week was about commemorating those who were taken too soon. I'd now like to talk about the steps we can take to prevent some of those deaths. Specifically, how we can prevent deaths caused by one of the most common birth defects - congenital heart defects (CHD).
You tell each other everything, you share the most intimate secrets, laugh at the silliest of things and there's no subject out of bounds. Yet there's been something a little off about your bosom buddy lately and you can't quite put your finger on it...
So please, people of the media who print these stories of 'bouncing back', have a think before you file your copy next time and ask yourself if all this celebration of women being utterly perfect is in fact perpetuating low self-esteem among women who struggle to meet the unrealistic expectations that the media sets for us. Give us a break you lot!
This has been hard for me to write, and it did bring a few tears to my eyes. I don't think I could ever go through a pregnancy like I did with my 3rd ever again.
Over the past couple of years, a combination of chronic pain, work-related stress, feeling miserable and all the associated medications have destroyed my libido. Obliterated it even, like sexual napalm.
For many women, sickness or shock make any form of activity in the first months of pregnancy impossible. But if you do want to keep active, guidelines state that it is safe to continue to do what you did before pregnancy.
One of the greatest advantages to not sweeping baby loss under the carpet is to raise awareness among pregnant women in a positive way with what they can do personally to increase their chances of a successful pregnancy:
Earlier this year the Equality and Human Rights Commission, finally published their robust and detailed report on pregnancy and maternity discriminati...