I remember sitting at the hospital with Dan, excited and anxious at the same time. We had found out four weeks prior that we were pregnant. We had only been together a year and a half. I was 22, Dan 25. This wasn't in our plan. We didn't live together, we were still getting to know each other. My mum had suspected I was pregnant for a while, but I kept dismissing her. I was on the pill, I couldn't get pregnant.
She kept calling me, asking if my 'aunty flo' had arrived. In the end, I was getting snappy with her telling her that it still hadn't turned up.
I remember the day when I finally decided to get a pregnancy test. I had just finished work at 4, mum had been on at me all day to get a test, just to rule it out. I put the phone down on her after moaning at her saying "for God's sake, fine I'm going to get a test, but it's just a waste of money."
I walked around Tesco with a face like a slapped arse. I got overwhelmed when I got to the aisle, there were so many different products. Which one do I choose? An own brand? A popular brand? The most expensive? The digital one? I must have been standing in the aisle just staring for a good twenty minutes. I finally decided on one I always see advertised on TV.
I walked over to the checkout, I remember feeling embarrassed and judged. At home, I sat on the toilet, read the instructions as I had never used one before. I did the test and watched the wee move across the test.
The test said to wait 3 minutes for results. My results came up instantly. There it was. A big fat dark blue cross. I was shaking. I called out "Mum, can you come here please," she ran up the stairs and into the bathroom. By this point, I was crying. "Mum is this positive?"
She took it off me and read the instructions, she then pulled me in and cuddled me. The first thing I said to her was that Dan was going to break up with me. He didn't want kids yet, and neither did I. But I was not getting rid of this baby, the thought didn't even cross my mind. I was so scared that I got mum to call Dan. I heard her say "Dan, are you sitting down?" his response, "I'm driving is everything ok?" She said, "Ashleigh is pregnant." Meanwhile, I stood, clutching the door frame watching her body language and listening. I loved him and I was so scared to lose him.
After what felt like forever, mum walked over and gave me the phone, "he wants to talk to you." I took the phone and he said to me "you're a wally, aren't you? Of course, I am not going to leave you. Everything will be fine, I'll call you when I'm home. I love you." I've never been so relieved.
After we got our head around it, we were excited. We were having a baby! Everyone was so excited, except my dad. I think the realisation that his little girl was in an intimate relationship hit him hard. I was his baby. He didn't talk to me for nearly two weeks. I was so ashamed. Mum kept saying "he will come round, he is fine, just old-fashioned." But his silence broke my heart.
We told Dan's mum. She wasn't overly chuffed. I remember sitting in her house. Dan was just about to leave to get dinner and I got up to go with him. She looked at me and said, "No, not you, I want to talk to you." I looked at Dan and he just shrugged. I sat back down. As soon as Dan was out the door she said: "Do you think he wants this baby?" I couldn't believe what just come out of her mouth. I was so upset. She then went on to say "he isn't happy because you are having a baby, he's happy because the led in his pencil works. He feels proud of himself."
I just crumbled. I wasn't rude back to her, I just said: "We are happy and we are keeping the baby". As Dan pulled up she said, "he is not to know about this conversation." Was this a test? Why couldn't I tell him? Obviously now I know it was because she knew he would go ape shit.
He walked through the door and knew instantly something was wrong. He asked me in the kitchen what was wrong but I just shook my head and said nothing. He knew she had said something, but I didn't want to tell him. I put myself to bed upstairs and he was downstairs. I don't know what was said, but he just told me he said to her "I don't know what you have said to Ashleigh while I've been gone, but she is upset and crying and won't tell me."
Dan was late for our first scan, I was so angry. My anxiety was through the roof and we only just made the scan in the nick of time. I was bursting for a wee. We got called in and mum said she would wait outside and come in after everything was ok. She was a nervous wreck, normally she doesn't show her nerves, today she was. We eventually walked in, hand in hand, and just so excited. We worked out that I must be around 13 weeks pregnant. I lay down, and a petite lady with brown curly hair greeted us. After what seemed like ages, she said she needed to do an internal as she couldn't see the baby.
After about 15 minutes another doctor came in. I looked at Dan, I was nervous, I knew something was wrong. She then turned the screen around and said: "There's your baby."
Dan and I beamed from ear to ear, but what she said next broke us "but it has no heartbeat, do you want a picture printed?"
There was no I'm sorry, no emotion in her voice, nothing. Our baby was gone.
He went outside and got my mum. She was so excited until she walked behind the curtain and saw me crying my eyes out. The sonographer printed off our picture put it in a brown envelope and said: "there you go - if you take it over there (pointed to the other door outside the sonogram room) they'll deal with it."
Before we knew it, we were sitting with a doctor going through our options to remove our baby. My baby. They told me my body was struggling to reject the baby and that it had probably had been dead for a while. I couldn't get over how harsh their words were. We decided on the tablet option and went from there. When I got home, my dad came up to me, kissed my forehead and said "I'm so sorry darling" - the first words spoke in two weeks. I broke down.
My younger brother bought me a Domino's Pizza - the only way he knew how to cheer me up. The gesture was touching. It was a long and agonising process, it took months for my body to lose the baby. I pined for this baby for a long while. The baby that I never got to hold. I still think about our baby most days, I wonder who they have been and what they would have been like.
We have since gone on to have two healthy children, but every September we wish our first little one a Happy Birthday. He or she would have been five years old this September.
It's not until you go through something like this, that you realise how often it happens.
You don't get told about this, you have to find out and deal with it yourselves. Our relationship nearly broke down because of this, I was depressed and struggled to move on, but after a lot of support from Dan and my family, we got there.
7 years on, a wedding coming up and our family we are happier and stronger than ever. We have our angel watching over us.