I was so scared my unborn baby would die, I stayed in bed for three months.
The Mirror's Christmas Appeal aims to raise pounds 100,000 for Tommy's to help develop a treatment to prevent premature labour.
By making a donation you could help some of the 40,000 babies every year who risk handicap and death by being born too small and too early.
Your money will help fund the nationwide PREMET trial to identify and treat women at high risk of pre-term birth.
The relief as she cradled her beautiful newborn daughter in her arms was overwhelming for actress Carol Royle.
Tears welled in her eyes, trickled down her cheeks and gently fell onto Talitha's head.
The birth had ended nine months of torment for the star of BBC TV series Life Without George and Dennis Potter's Blackeyes on ITV.
For nine months she had been terrified she would lose the baby she was carrying. Nine months convinced her daughter would not survive.
Her previous pregnancy had ended when Carol went into labour at six months. A few hours later her daughter Tanith was born dead.
Now she was so frightened for her new baby's safety she had consulted three different obstetricians and insisted on being scanned virtually every week.
"As soon as I knew I was pregnant I was terrified I would lose the baby," says Carol, who also has a 14-year-old son, Taran.
"If I had lost another baby I would not have been able to cope. I was worried every second up to 37 weeks. I even stayed in bed for three months.
When Talitha was born at full term, a healthy 8lbs, the relief was unbelievable.
"I had wanted it to be a wonderful, natural birth which it wasn't. It was a long and unpleasant experience.
"But it was worth it when I saw Talitha; when I held her in my arms. I couldn't believe that at last something had gone right.
"She is two-and-a-half now and I still can't get over how lucky I am."
Until now Carol has remained silent about the agony of losing a much- wanted daughter, too grief-stricken to talk of the tiny girl she never got to know.
But she has opened her heart exclusively for the first time to support The Mirror's Christmas Appeal for Tommy's Campaign.
She and husband Julian Spear, who works in the music business, were devastated when the daughter they had longed for was stillborn.
"I could not stop crying, the pain was so unbearable," says Carol, 44. "Tanith was absolutely perfect. Everything was there, all her fingers and toes. But she was so tiny.
"I was allowed to hold her. I cuddled and kissed her. The nurses took a photo of her, which I keep on my desk at home.
"She stayed in the room in the hospital all night with me and my husband.
"She is buried with the family in Sussex and we visit her grave regularly. The funeral was very painful, but I felt it was very important to recognise her existence.
"She may have died before she was born, but she was a real person.
"One of the hardest things to cope with was that because Tanith was so premature the hospital referred to it as a `miscarriage' not a stillbirth.
"I joined a support group for women who have lost babies and got a `befriender' which was a great help." Carol's pregnancy had been an ordeal from the start.
She had always wanted a second child since the birth of son, Taran, 10 years earlier, but her career had pushed plans into the background.
Then, at the age of 39, she decided time was running out and was delighted when she fell pregnant almost immediately.
But she felt "terribly, terribly ill" from the moment she conceived and twice in the first five months doctors feared she might lose the baby.
At 20 weeks she was admitted to hospital for surgery under general anaesthetic, in a last- ditch attempt to save the pregnancy. She was kept in for three weeks' complete bed rest.
"I was absolutely terrified," she said. "I was warned the procedure probably would not work and that there was only a 50-50 chance of keeping the baby.
"It was awful just lying there with my thoughts. Feeling my baby alive and kicking, but not being able to do anything but wait either to go into premature labour or for her to die in the womb."
Carol went into labour at 24 weeks. But her tiny daughter had died 30 minutes earlier.
"It was unspeakable, having to go through labour and birth knowing your baby is dead.
"As the grieving process started it became an obsession to have another baby, to be pregnant again," says Carol, who was then at the height of her career, performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and on television.
"I had my son Taran, whom I adored, but all I could think about was a baby.
"I did not care less about my career. I feared I had left it too late to have another baby.
"I dreaded I would never be able to conceive again.
"I had become pregnant with Tanith straight away even though I was 39, and although it only took about eight months to become pregnant with Talitha it seemed like ages.
"Talitha has helped repair the grief. I don't know what I would have done without her. She is a real joy.
"But I will always remember Tanith. I have two adorable children but I should have three."
HOW YOU CAN HELP SAVE OUR BABIES
MIRROR DONATION LINE:
0845 603 0810
Line open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, calls charged at local rate. Credit cards accepted: Access, Visa, Mastercard and CAF Charity Card. Or send donations to Tommy's Campaign, The Mirror Appeal, London SE99 6RD.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Dec 8, 1997|
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