After two devastating stillbirths and one miscarriage, a woman kept the amazing news of her most recent pregnancy secret – announcing it via WhatsApp when the baby was born, with a photo message saying, “We can't believe she's here."
After suffering three tragedies in as many years, in their bid to become parents, duck farmers Amy and Oliver Everatt, both 33, kept quiet about their news, as they could not face telling people again if they lost another baby.
Only sharing the news when their “little miracle," Elfine, was born and declared fit, the couple's jubilant announcement said: 'Elfine Stella Everatt' born 25/10/17 weighing 3lb 13oz, mum and baby doing well. We can't believe she's here.'
Amy announced Elfine's arrival via WhatsApp (Collect/PA Real Life)
Founder of Help Us Grieve (HUG), an app and website to support grieving parents, 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."
A couple for 14 years, Amy and Oliver first met at preschool and always wanted a family.
Amy is the founder of Help Us Grieve (HUG), an app and website to support grieving parents
(Collect/PA Real Life)
When Amy had a straight-forward pregnancy with their eldest daughter Lilia, seven, in 2011, they imagined everything would be straight forward 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 recalled: “I noticed the baby had stopped moving, but because we were still quite early in the pregnancy doctors thought it was okay. Deep down, though, call it a mother's instinct, I knew something wasn't right."
Amy pregnant with Meridon (Collect/PA Real Life)
Tragically, at 19 weeks, visiting the hospital, she 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.
Adorable Elfine (PA Real Life/Tiny Feet Photography)
Both times, devastated Amy had to carry her stillborn children for a further five days until an appointment could be scheduled for their birth.
“I was petrified and had post traumatic stress disorder symptoms afterwards. We had funerals for both our girls, attended by only me and Oliver," she said.
“It was the most heartbreaking time, as we really wanted a bigger family."
"We can't believe she's here! " - Amy's joyous announcement
Then, just after Christmas 2015, Amy discovered she was pregnant again, but at just 12 weeks she had a miscarriage.
“Nothing was coming up on my test results, explaining why I could get pregnant but couldn't seem to hold on to the babies," she said.
“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."
Amy and husband Oliver (Collect/PA Real Life)
Then, in March 2017, the magic blue lines appeared on Amy's pregnancy test once more.
“ I was so filled with anxiety that I called our specialist before I told Oliver," Amy recalled.
“When I did ring my husband, he was so positive and said, 'We can do this!'"
Amy pregnant with Elfine (PA Real Life/Tiny Feet Photography)
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.
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.
“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," Amy said.
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.
Lilia and Elfine (PA Real Life/Tiny Feet Photography)
“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," Amy said.
“She was small like the girls we had lost, weighing just 3lb 13oz, and I was desperate for her to be okay."
“I felt like I'd been holding my breath for 35 weeks, petrified at every scan that we were going to have lost her."
Amy in hospital after her miscarriage (Collect/PA Real Life)
Kept in hospital for two weeks, Amy and Oliver then shocked friends and family with their news.
“We sent a picture to our nearest and dearest, announcing little Elfine's arrival," Amy smiled.
“It was a big surprise for everyone, as nobody knew I had been pregnant."
Amy pregnant with Elfine (PA Real Life/Tiny Feet Photography)
Now almost one year old, Amy says you would never know her girl was born premature, and the family have never been happier.
“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 said.
“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."
For more information visit www.helpusgrieve.co.uk