Belfast Telegraph

Allen tells of stillbirth agony

Chart star Lily Allen has opened up about the pain she faced as she lost one child and then went on to face months of agony with her daughter when a health problem meant the tot struggled to eat.

In an interview for Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in which she struggled to hold back her tears, she told how her life had swung to extremes, with career highs and personal lows.

Allen said she longed to simply care for her child like other mothers following the birth of Ethel - who is now two and a half - but the youngster had to be fed through a tube for many months.

She said: "I was scared of losing her the whole time, all I wanted to do was just breast-feed her and to sit there in my chair with her and spend those precious hours into the night looking after your child."

Allen - who returned to the music business with the release of her third album Sheezus this year, after a break - was devastated in 2010 when she had a stillbirth six months into a pregnancy.

Then the following year, when Ethel was born she was found to have a condition called laryngomalacia.

In the interview, to be broadcast today, she said: "It's basically a problem with the throat. She was working so hard to breathe, to just exist really, and she wasn't really gaining any weight at all. Because all of the food she was taking on, she was just expending the energy on this breathing process.

"When she was really, really little the doctors said she had to have an operation to correct it and then that didn't work so she had to have it again. And she was tiny, she'd lost so much weight and then as a result of that, because of what happened before with my previous, it was just a really tough time."

The singer - who performed at Glastonbury on Friday - went on: "She just had to be tube-fed for about seven months, eight months. But she's fine now, absolutely fine."

Allen, who has had a string of hits including Smile and The Fear, said: "I remember when we lost our first, I remember thinking it's just so bizarre that I seem to have all these really unique experiences you know, the highs along with the lows. From playing on the main stage at Glastonbury to 70,000 people to losing a child, it's just, everything seemed to be extremes.

"When my eldest was born I just remember the doctor saying when they first diagnosed her with the condition they said, it's a one in a hundred chance that you are going to have to operate, and then of course she needed the operation and then they said it's a one in a hundred chance that they will have to operate again and I just thought how many one in a hundred chances do I have?"

During her appearance on Desert Island Discs she chose the song I Would Rather Go Blind by Etta James for its association with the stillbirth.

Choking back her emotions, the singer said: "It's quite difficult to talk about it. Sometimes I think that listening to certain songs can be really helpful to take you back to a certain place. I lost a child three years ago now, and I just remember leaving the hospital empty-handed, so to speak, and driving from Homer on in Hackney, all the way down to Gloucestershire and this song being on a CD that (her husband) Sam was playing and in a weird way it's just a nice song to kind of connect to."

Praising the support of her husband through her difficult periods, Allen - who has gone on to have a second child Marine - said: "He's just an amazing, amazing man and I don't know where I'd be without him."

:: Desert Island Discs is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11.15am


From Belfast Telegraph