A mum who suffered two stillbirths and a miscarriage has told how she kept her most recent pregnancy a secret and announced her "little miracle" baby’s birth on WhatsApp.
Amy and Oliver Everatt, both 33, decided to stay quiet after finding out they were expecting because they could not face telling people again if they lost another baby.
The duck farmers had suffered three tragedies in as many years and feared they would lose a fourth child.
After refusing to give up hope, the couple introduced their baby girl, Elfine, in a text message that stunned their family and friends.
Their jubilant announcement read: "Elfine Stella Everatt born 25/10/17 weighing 3lb 13oz, mum and baby doing well. We can’t believe she’s here."
Amy, of Langford, Nottinghamshire, said: “We kept quiet to protect ourselves, because we had already lost three children and we couldn’t face telling people we had lost another one.
“We didn’t want people feeling sorry for us, looking at my bump thinking I would probably lose it. So, we decided if someone asked, then we wouldn’t lie, but we wouldn’t actively tell people.”
Amy is the founder of Help Us Grieve (HUG), an app and website to support grieving parents.
She and Oliver, who have been together for 14 years, first met at pre-school and always wanted a family.
When Amy had a straight-forward pregnancy with their eldest daughter Lilia, seven, in 2011, they imagined everything would be easy when they began trying for a brother or sister for her.
But, after discovering she was pregnant in 2013, Amy’s joy quickly turned to heartbreak, when, at 18 weeks, she noticed her baby had stopped moving inside her.
She said: “I noticed the baby had stopped moving, but because we were still quite early in the pregnancy doctors thought it was ok.
“Deep down, though, call it a mother’s instinct, I knew something wasn’t right.”
Tragically, at 19 weeks, she visited the hospital and was told the baby girl she and Oliver had called Meridon had died.
Refusing to lose hope, they tried again and were thrilled when they discovered they were expecting the following June.
Then, in October 2014, after being involved in a small car crash, Amy had a precautionary check-up, discovering that the baby girl, who they named Addie, had died.
Both times, devastated Amy had to carry her stillborn children for a further five days until an appointment could be scheduled for their birth.
She said: “I was petrified and had post traumatic stress disorder symptoms afterwards. We had funerals for both our girls, attended by only me and Oliver.
“It was the most heartbreaking time, as we really wanted a bigger family.”
Then, just after Christmas 2015, Amy discovered she was pregnant again, but at just 12 weeks she had a miscarriage.
She added: “Nothing was coming up on my test results, explaining why I could get pregnant but couldn’t seem to hold on to the babies.
“We saw a specialist at the recurrent miscarriage unit at Hertford County Hospital, two hours from our home, and were told if we did want to try again, we would need to take medication as soon as I fell pregnant.”
Then, in March 2017, the magic blue lines appeared on Amy’s pregnancy test once more.
She said: "I was so filled with anxiety that I called our specialist before I told Olive.
“When I did ring my husband, he was so positive and said, ‘We can do this!’”
As a precaution, however, the couple decided not to tell anyone about the pregnancy.
Given twice-daily injections of the blood thinner Clexane, thought to help prevent blood clots from forming in the embryo and placenta, as well as an aspirin once a day and steroids, only Amy, Oliver and their medical team knew about the pregnancy.
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At 16 weeks they shared the news only with Amy’s mum, retired nurse Wendy Crowe, 64, so she could help with looking after their eldest child when they went to hospital appointments.
Amy said: “Some people could obviously tell I was pregnant, but they would just offer to take my bags, for example, and respect we were keeping it private."
Having weekly check-ups at Hertford General Hospital, medics warned they may need to deliver the baby, who they discovered at 20 weeks was a girl, early because Amy was prone to miscarrying.
Then, at 35 weeks, medics decided it was time for the baby girl to make an appearance – and she was born at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital by elected C-section, on October 25, 2017.
Amy said: “When she arrived they put her in an incubator straight away as she was so tiny. I only got to hold her at four days old, and I was terrified again.
“She was small like the girls we had lost, weighing just 3lb 13oz, and I was desperate for her to be ok.
“I felt like I’d been holding my breath for 35 weeks, petrified at every scan that we were going to have lost her.”
Kept in hospital for two weeks, Amy and Oliver then shocked friends and family with their news.
Amy said: “We sent a picture to our nearest and dearest, announcing little Elfine’s arrival.
“It was a big surprise for everyone, as nobody knew I had been pregnant.”
Now almost one year on, Amy said you would never know her girl was born premature, and the family have never been happier.
She said: “It was only a few days ago, looking at a school photo Lilia had done, where we took Elfine in for the sibling shot, that it really hit home that Lilia had a sister and that Elfine had made it.
“She is the most beautiful and happy little girl. Lilia is so happy to have a sibling and we feel so lucky too.
"We call Elfine our little miracle.”
Click here for more information about Help Us Grieve.
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