Around Christmas 1993, I got pregnant. It was completely the wrong time for me to have a child - my relationship was breaking up, I was supposed to be going back to University, I had nowhere to live and no income. I really wanted it though. I can't describe how much I wanted it. That baby was MINE. My partner was in the process of dumping me in a particularly shitty way, he was horrified at the idea of having a child. It was MY baby.
So I thought very hard about what to do; and whilst I was doing that, I had a miscarriage.
Which in a way was good, because I didn't have to make any hard choices. I just had to pick up the bits of my life, pack a bag, find a room in Leicester and start my Master's course.
I did all of those things, plus suffering from quite bad depression.
For a while, every month, if my period was a couple of days late, I would obsessively do pregnancy tests.
I would think I was getting over it, that it was all fading, then the sight of a baby would knock me back completely; just provoke a complete and utter breakdown in to tears. It was like a physical pressure in my chest. Sometimes the sight of children's clothes in shops would trigger it. Sometimes it would come up out of nowhere. It wasn't as if the grief faded with time. The spaces between the bouts of grief got a bit further apart, gradually; but the grief I experienced each time was just as raw and just as intense as in the days after it had happened.
I needed to be held while I raged against the unfairness, to have someone touch me on the hand as I passed Mothercare, to smile at me understandingly as we passed a mother and baby in the street. I had none of these things, because my partner and I had split up and I was back at college with a group of people who I deliberately hadn't told my history.
In the end, I got myself some counselling. I bought some tiny baby clothes for the baby and some pram shoes and socks. I gave her a gender and a name. I decided on a birthday for her. I called her Elouise and decided that she would have been born on the 14th of September.
When September came round, I grieved again.
Each year, in February and in September, I remember her. I think about how she would be growing. Whether she'd have long hair or short hair. Whether she'd like animals, or computers. Whether she'd be like me. Or completely different.
Gradually, the tearing pain of each anniversary faded. Now, fourteen years on, it's almost as if I am mourning someone who passed away many years ago. I feel a bitter-sweet pain in my heart; and in my head I see a picture of my daughter as she would be today.
This week, fourteen years ago, I lost the child I will never have. Nothing can replace that - Leo is his own person, as was she; whole, complete, a brief visitor who taught me things I needed to know and then left again.
With the distance of time, I can treasure the experience as a gift. And it's what you do with the gift that matters.