LYING on a hospital bed waiting for results of her 12-week scan, Jane Danson’s excitement turned to dread as the room fell silent.
Minutes later, the nurse would tell her that her baby had no heartbeat – a devastating blow which ended her dream of a third child.
Now the 41-year-old Coronation Street star – who has sons Harry, 14, and Sam, 11, with husband Rob Beck – has opened up about her miscarriage for the first time for a new Channel 5 documentary.
In an emotional interview on Miscarriage: Our Story, which airs tonight, she says: “At our 12 week scan. I remember lying down and the consultant said, ‘I won’t turn the screen around,’ then the room went really quiet and I just knew that something wasn’t right.”
Breaking down in tears she adds: “My heart just sank because I knew that it had gone wrong, that the baby had died and then they confirmed that.”
Although many women still choose not to talk about the issue, miscarriage is incredibly common, ending one in four pregnancies in the UK.
The powerful documentary also sees newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky give her first interview about the multiple miscarriages she suffered before becoming a mum of two, which left her feeling “guilty” and “depleted”.
EastEnder Lacey Turner talks frankly about losing her first two pregnancies and Izzy Judd, wife of McFly drummer Harry, reveals her own heartbreaking experience of a miscarrying on Christmas day.
'I shut down for three years'
Soap star Jane, who married Rob in 2005, says her grief over losing her third child took years to get over.
“We’ve always been really open with each other and talked about things but I just shut down,” she says.
“It took about three years for me to fully have the conversation and talk about how I was feeling. It festered and lingered for a long time and I couldn’t find the words.
"I was physically broken. Something was wrong and it was my fault."
Jane says her agony was compounded by well-intentioned but misguided words.
"I remember one particular person saying, ‘Oh never mind. You've still got two other children'," she says.
"Of course, they’re my world but at the same time, I wanted that baby as much as my other children."
Triple tragedy hidden from BBC bosses
Natasha Kaplinsky was a high-profile BBC newsreader when she met Justin Bowers, at the age of 33, at an award ceremony.
The couple were engaged in five weeks and married after five months, in August 2005.
“I was completely bowled over,” she says. “But I met him quite late, so starting a family quite quickly was a real priority.”
Natasha, now 48, reveals her heartbreak as her first pregnancy ended in tragedy, at her 12 week scan.
“I’ll never forget the crestfallen face of the sonographer as he said, ‘I’m so sorry, would you like some time to yourself?’" she says.
"It took me ages to understand that he meant the pregnancy wasn’t going to work.”
Having not told anyone she was pregnant, Natasha took no time off from her job at the BBC and, over the next two years, suffered another two devastating miscarriages.
Trying and failing to have a baby was "depleting in every single way," she says.
"I tried absolutely everything to keep the pregnancy – acupuncture, vitamins, meditation, praying – but there was nothing I could do to make my body work and hold on to a pregnancy.”
The former Strictly star says she was heartbroken at the thought that husband Justin may never be a dad.
“I felt I was letting Justin down, and that made me so upset,” she says. “I felt like I could cope with my own disappointment but taking that excitement away from him was especially hard.
“I had that sense of being a barren woman, that I was never going to be able to make him a father, and it broke my heart.”
As the problem is so common, women are not offered any treatment on the NHS until they have had three consecutive miscarriages.
Natasha was eventually treated by Professor Lesley Regan, whose specialist clinic at St Mary’s Hospital, London, is one of 30 in the UK.
Speaking on the programme the Professor explained that half of all fertilised eggs don’t make it to full term.
“Some of them never properly implant, some implant but are genetically abnormal so they can’t progress,” she says.
“The majority of miscarriages are due to random genetic abnormalities in the embryos. The worst things for couples is having no information.”
Even women who have had multiple miscarriages can go on to have a family, she says, with 75 per cent of her patients eventually becoming mums.
“It’s really important you rule out treatable causes, find that needle in the haystack. If they don’t have a problem, they really have a very good prognosis,” she adds.
Happily, Natasha is now mum to Arlo, 12 and Angelica, 10.
“After all that sadness and fear, I couldn’t believe there had been this miracle,” she says.
“Any baby is a miracle, but for me it felt like the most monumental miracle that these two babies were in our lives.”
Lacey’s silent agony
A recent study by the charity Tommy’s found that 82 percent of those who experienced a miscarriage were unable to access bereavement care or mental health support.
Three in five (60 per cent) say they had no follow up appointment to discuss their mental wellbeing with a health professional.
For actress Lacey Turner, the decision to speak out about her two miscarriages came from her own reluctance to talk at the time, which left her feeling “lonely” and “broken.”
The EastEnders star, now 32, married childhood sweetheart Matt Kay in 2017, in Ibiza, and fell pregnant two months later.
“For me having a family was always the biggest thing I wanted to do,” she says. “We were so excited.”
But seven weeks into the pregnancy, Lacey began bleeding heavily and suffering stomach cramps – and instantly realised she was losing the baby.
“In my gut I knew it wasn’t right,” she says. “I just felt so empty. I had gone from being so excited because we’d waited so long for this baby, to feeling numb.
“I went back to work the next day, carried on like nothing had happened, which makes me really sad now.
“I was walking around feeling so heartbroken yet nobody would have had a clue.”
Lacey fell pregnant again just a few months later but, sadly, again at seven weeks, she lost the baby.
“It was worse the second time, so much more blood,” she says.
“I was stressed out because they found there was a tiny bit of the foetus, about the size of a grain of rice, stuck to the lining of the cervix, so you can’t try again.
“That was really horrible because I felt like there was still a bit of the baby stuck inside me and you just want it out.”
I was walking around feeling so heartbroken yet nobody would have had a clue.
It was four more months before Lacey had a procedure to remove the baby’s cells and says her mental health suffered so badly she couldn’t even talk to Matt.
“I felt so lonely and I didn’t speak about it,” she says. “You don’t understand it, you feel completely alone.
“There isn’t anyone who can make it better because it’s happened. We should have talked to each other but because we didn’t it made both of us really lonely and you feel like you are the only person in the world this has happened to.”
Terrified of miscarrying again
Lacey says she got to the point where she stopped trying for a baby – and then unexpectedly fell pregnant again.
But after telling Matt the pregnancy test was positive she instantly added: ‘Don’t get excited’.
“It should have been a lovely moment and I made it a really negative moment,” she says.
At seven weeks she began bleeding again and, fearing the worst, she went for a scan.
This time the baby was still alive but her progesterone level had dramatically dropped, endangering the foetus. Doctors believed this had also happened in the previous two pregnancies
Even after being prescribed progesterone, Lacey feared the worst. "Until i have the baby in my hands, and she’s breathing, alive and kicking, I can’t relax,” she says.
Lacey’s healthy baby girl Dusty was born in July 2019.
“I feel so lucky to have her,” says the actress. “She’s changed our lives in so many ways. She’s incredible.”
Lacey now believes women should be honest with each other and talk openly about the issue.
“After talking about it, I was surrounded by people who had been through exactly the same thing," she says.
“Had I opened my mouth and asked, ‘Have you ever been through something like that?’ I would have had people to speak to and I wouldn’t have been lonely at all.”
Miscarriage on Christmas Day
Violinist Izzy Judd and husband Harry, who wed in 2012, turned to IVF after trying for two years.
When she finally fell pregnant, in 2014, her happiness seemed complete.
“In my mind I had the nursery, the names," she says. "I was already a mum.”
But tragedy struck on Christmas night, as the couple enjoyed a festive break at the St Alban’s hotel where they held their dream wedding.
“I woke up at 3am and went to the loo and it was just like a horror scene, just bright red,” she says.
“The physical sensation of passing a baby, even at seven weeks and three days, I’ll never forget. It just fell and I knew. I couldn’t look. I just remember shouting to Harry ‘It’s gone. We’ve lost the baby’."
Afterwards, Izzy was plagued with guilt and questions, wondering if she had done something wrong or tempted fate by using IVF to conceive.
“You can’t help but feel guilty,” she says. “What if I can’t give Harry children, or his and my parents grandchildren?
“We live in a place which is full of mums, babies and lots of buggies and when you're trying for a family it’s very difficult because there are constant reminders.
“It’s painful because you think everyone finds it so easy. Why are we finding this so difficult?”
Izzy says her second pregnancy, in 2015, “felt different” but the couple were still nervous right up until the birth of Lola, in January 2016. Their son Kit followed in 2017.
Grieving mum told to ‘flush dead baby down the toilet’
Journalist Anna Whitehouse, who had three miscarriages before finally having two daughters with partner Matt, recalls a consultant told her to go home and wait after she began to miscarry.
“I asked what I should do when the baby passes and the obstetrician said, ‘You can flush it down the toilet,” she says.
“You are waiting for two or three days, bleeding, until you have that baby and have to dispose of it yourself – wrap it in kitchen paper, put it in the bin or flush it down the toilet.
“It’s not a humane way of dealing with losing someone.”
Travel writer Lisa Francesca Nand recalls she was told to “take some paracetamol and go home” after a scan revealed her baby had died.
Her husband, Psychotherapist David Kirk says: “We were in the hospital surrounded by people getting good news with pictures. The doctors and the nurses seem used to this but it just wasn’t the right thing to do. It didn’t seem fair, it seemed damn rude. I was shocked.”
While most women who miscarry will go on to have children, there are some heartbreaking exceptions.
The documentary also covers the story of theatre producer Jessica Hepburn, who had 11 rounds of IVF and multiple miscarriages before giving up her quest for children at 43.
She recalls discovering she was miscarrying during a show at a London theatre, tying her coat round her waist to hide her blood-soaked trousers and going back to watch the second half, now knowing what to do.
She has now raised over £1million for fertility charities and is training to climb Everest.
“I’m never getting over the pain of what I’ve been through but I’m trying to turn that into a positive for myself and other people, and that feels like a good life," she says.
Natasha says her own experience of becoming a mum after years of disappointment inspired her to speak out.
“It has taken me over a decade to feel comfortable talking about my miscarriages,” she says.
“I promised myself at the time that if I was ever successful and had my own family, I would try to share my experience to give others hope.”
Miscarriage: Our Story airs on Channel 5 at 10pm on Thursday 15th October as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week
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