14/08/2014 16:53 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Octomum Mandy Allwood Speaks Of Her Grief At Losing Babies Who Would Be 17 This Week

Octomum Mandy Allwood speaks of baby-loss grief 17 years on

The original octomum, Mandy Allwood, has spoken about the grief she still feels over the deaths of her eight babies, 17 years ago.

Mandy, now 48, told the Sunday People that she still relives the three day and three night period she gave birth to her eight children only to have them all die in her arms.

The distraught mum admits she has twice tried to kill ­herself, battles with alcohol addiction, and has endured numerous episodes of depression.

Her six boys and two girls – Kypros, Adam, Martyn, Cassius, Nelson, Donald, Kitali and Layne – were born just 24 weeks into her pregnancy in 1996.

She had fallen pregnant by her then-partner Paul Hudson after being injected with the ovary-stimulation drug Metrodin, after she had struggled to conceive because of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Mandy says that following the injection, her doctor instructed her to have sex within 48 hours. A week later, she was told she had seven follicles (immature eggs) forming and there was a chance of them all surviving.

"As I'd just had a miscarriage I was vulnerable and desperate to get pregnant so it was all pretty bewildering and I was sent to another specialist. When he said I was expecting eight all hell broke loose. Everybody wanted a bit of me," she said.

But when the babies tragically arrived early, Mandy says she prayed that at least one of them would survive.

Octomum Mandy Allwood speaks of baby-loss grief 17 years on

"Over three days and nights I miscarried eight times," she recalled. "I cradled each of them for two-and-a-half hours as they died in my arms. It was horrible. Truly horrible."

"When I felt the last one ­coming, I said, 'Please, God, let at least one of them live'."

After the babies' deaths, Mandy went on to have three daughters, but struggled to cope with what had happened previously.

"I was in a very bad place at the time, drinking way too much to blot out the pain and it was turning into a vicious cycle. I had nothing to live for. I would wake up and have a glass of wine in the morning."

"I would drink anything I could get my hands on. I'd lost my driving licence because I'd been drinking too much, so I couldn't go out to get any more booze. I was living on this ­estate and I had to get a taxi to go to the off-licence."

She says she was given an ASBO after playing Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares to You over and over in memory of her babies, and admits she was in a 'very, very bad place'.

"I remember ­sitting on this dirty floor of a public loo in Warwick with a fag in my hand, taking one ­paracetamol at a time until I had 90 of them. I knocked them back with two bottles of pinot grigio. They had screw tops. I didn't have a corkscrew. I wanted to die," she said.

She says she eventually realised she had to do something with her life for the sake of her children, and spent five months at a residential rehab centre in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in 2009.

"I got to the point where I said to myself, 'Come on, Mandy, pull yourself together. Sort your life out'. I knew I had ­responsibilities. But it was a nightmare. I didn't have anyone visiting me but got through it," she said.

"I still have my depression days. Sometimes I just can't speak to anyone but as soon as I switch my phone off I feel guilty. But I'm moving forward now. Even today, or when I am in the depths of despair or want to go to bed and take a sleeping tablet because I think I can't go on, I speak to myself and say, 'Come on, Mandy, get your slap on, get in that bath and get out'."

"Losing all my babies has been terrible. It's been absolutely horrible, but if I can help others that's at least something."