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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Octomum is haunted by the memories of her 8 dead babies, 19 years after

Better place . . . Mandy Allwood

50-year-old Mandy Allwood lost her octuplets at 24 weeks, 19 years ago but she still feels her beloved babies inside her.

Mandy told The Sun: “I will never ever be able to forget because I am always thinking about them in my head, but also because I can still feel my babies inside me constantly.

“Ever since I gave birth I have felt them kicking and moving every day. The feeling comes especially under my breastbone, it is like a sharp stabbing pain. I can feel it now as I’m talking.

“If I didn’t take sleeping tablets at night it would keep me awake. I went to the doctor because I was worried and he said it was psychological.

“I had heard of foetal movement syndrome and did some research and read it was something that women who lost their babies suffered from.

'Like yesterday' . . . Mandy carrying octuplets in 1996 London News Service

“It’s horrific because it brings back all the trauma every minute of every day when I feel the kicks. I am sent back to the time of me giving birth.

“Sometimes I feel slightly nauseous too as if I am having morning sickness and my stomach is always bloated. I think my body is constantly reliving the experience because it was so painful emotionally.”

Mandy’s tragedy played out in the full media spotlight after she went public with her pregnancy.

She lost her babies over three agonising days after going into early labour in September 1996. Every one of them died in her arms.

Such was her profile at the time that she received thousands of letters of condolence from around the world.

Mandy already knows exactly what she will do when the 19th anniversary of the beginning of those terrible days of losses arrives on September 30.

She said: “I can’t believe it is so long ago, it still seems like yesterday.

“I will go to their grave and lay flowers then go across to the church over the road and say a prayer.

“I have a treasure box which I keep next to my bed with their scan pictures and photos of them when they were born along with their birth certificates and teddy bears.

“I also have kept the hundreds of letters from strangers who wrote to me at the time to express their sorrow — including one I got from Princess Diana who jokingly thanked me for keeping her out of the public eye.

Hope . . . pregnant Mandy with Paul Reuters

“These letters were such a comfort to me at the time and will be on the week of the anniversary.

“It was such a horrible time and the grief never goes away.”

Mandy already had a son from a previous failed marriage when she met and fell for Paul Hudson, who ran a lettings business, in 1994.

Desperate to start a family with him, and after a miscarriage, she took fertility drugs to boost her odds.

She recalls: “I have suffered with polycystic ovaries all my life and had a miscarriage.

“I went to a fertility specialist where I was injected with Metrodin, which stimulated my ovaries.

“A week later when I went back to the clinic there were seven follicles — immature eggs — forming. I was so shocked I nearly fell off the bed

“I’d had a miscarriage and I was so desperate to get pregnant, so I was pleased. Then I was sent to another specialist and he said I was expecting eight. I was absolutely stunned.

“But from that moment my life was never the same.”

Mandy was given three choices — she could terminate all of the foetuses, try to reduce their number to give the others a better chance or carry on with the pregnancy without intervention.

All options carried risks.

After much agonising she chose to carry on without intervention, a decision she has been criticised for.

Agony . . . pallbearers carry eight tiny coffins PA:Press Association

Mandy was also accused of cashing in after she hired now-disgraced PR guru Max Clifford and signed TV and newspaper deals.

She says: “As soon as it came out I was expecting eight babies it went crazy, everybody wanted a bit of me.

“But the only reason I went ahead with the pregnancy was because I wanted those babies, that was my only motivation.

“I didn’t care about money or media deals, it was a whirlwind. I was in a highly emotional state, pregnant with lots of hormones and I got dragged along not really knowing what I was doing. It was all a blur.

“I didn’t feel like I had a choice. Having any of them removed would have been risky and how would I have chosen which ones?

“I didn’t go against medical advice — I was told there was a chance of them all surviving so I clung to that chance.”

On September 30, 1996 Mandy went into labour at 24 weeks.

She was taken to King’s College Hospital, London. Her first baby died just hours after birth.

Tearful Mandy re- called: “Over three days and nights I miscarried eight times.

“I cradled each of them as they died in my arms. It was truly horrible. When I felt the last one coming, I said, ‘Please, God, let at least one of them live.’ But it wasn’t to be. I was inconsolable.

“At the time I wished I’d died, I just wanted to be with them.”

The six boys and two girls, named Kypros, Adam, Martyn, Cassius, Nelson, Donald, Kitali and Layne, were buried in West Norwood Cemetery, South London, in eight white tiny coffins decorated with butterflies.

Blur . . . Mandy weeps at graveside with her then-partner Paul PA Archive

Mandy said: “The funeral was a complete blur. Watching their small coffins go into the hole — it didn’t feel real. It is a feeling if I am honest which has never ever left me and never will.”

Paul and Mandy went on to have three daughters but they split up within a few years of the tragedy.

Mandy suffers from depression, has battled alcoholism and tried to commit suicide twice.

She said: “There isn’t a moment I don’t think about them and in my darkest moments I have tried to take my own life so I could be with them.

“I swallowed some pills with alcohol in a public toilet once.

“I was drinking four or five bottles of wine a day, I would get up and have a glass in the morning.

“After taking tablets I staggered out to a wine bar where I was found and taken to hospital.

“I was in a high dependency ward for five days. When I woke up I realised I needed to change my life, turn things around for the memory of my babies

“I had a few blips since, but I feel in a better place.”

Single Mandy spent some time in rehab and has now overcome her addiction. She runs her own business and lives close to Warwick.

And she says she has no regrets over her decision to proceed with trying to carry all eight babies.

She said: “I would do the same thing again. Having the eight babies was something I had to do.”

Now Mandy hopes her experiences can help other people.

She adds “I am feeling a lot more positive these days, I have a new circle of friends and I am trying to look to the future.

“I have bad days and the phantom kicking in my stomach is a continual reminder of what I lost.

“But having read up on the condition at least I know why.

“If one good thing could come from this, I’d like to be able to help other women who have had miscarriages and maybe suffer these pains.

“Not enough is known about this and it should be spoken about.

“I could be a kind of agony aunt to them. If something positive could come out of my awful experience that would be good.”

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