Annie McGuire, broadcaster and journalist

It’s six weeks after your due date and you reach the front of the long coffee queue at work.

“Oh my goodness, you’re back. What did you have?” What I had was a baby girl stillborn at 38 weeks. In the last few weeks I’d given birth to a baby I knew was already dead – in a hospital surrounded by the screams of newborn babies – and organised and attended her funeral.

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But people don’t talk about stillbirth, so the girl who has made your coffee for the last five years doesn’t know.

What do you do at the front of that line, when a thoroughly good human being has asked you a question to which there is no answer that will not make her feel like the worst person on earth?

I felt physically sick. I could feel my eyes burning.

“I can’t talk about this just now,” I said, and walked away from a whole queue of people left wondering what on earth had happened to me.

Three years on, I still don’t talk about stillbirth much. It’s painful not just for me, but for everyone around me.

Deep down, though, I know this silence is part of the reason that every day in the UK, 15 babies are stillborn and 15 families go through what I’ve been through. So as part of a campaign to raise awareness, I am talking about stillbirth – the good and the bad.

The good? How can there be good in a stillbirth?

Firstly there’s the kindness of others – and especially others with a silent grief. Their quiet whispering of "I know a bit of what you are going through" was gentle and human and warm.

But the process of losing my daughter has also given me something like a superpower. There’s something very liberating about knowing you have survived this horrible event.

I don’t worry about losing my job – I’ve lost my child. I never worry about the day ahead, because I remember waking up on the day when I had to drag my heavily pregnant body into hospital and give birth in extreme emotional and physical pain. To hold my dead baby, while in the room next door a family was celebrating their live one. So throw any kind of everyday stress at me and it bounces off.

Grace had Down’s syndrome. We knew that from around 14 weeks and faced a lot of pressure to terminate but that is not really how my heart is set up. I’d given up almost every bit of work I had in preparation to care for her. These were not easy choices, but I’d adjusted to them.

Nobody knows why Grace died. The post-mortem couldn’t find anything concrete. She had Down’s syndrome but her heart was perfect with none of the defects associated with the condition. I’ll never know why it happened, and the question "why me?" goes through my head every day.

We’ve got to create a world where women – and wider families – aren’t expected to be silent about such a catastrophic event happening to them. When women know that this is a reality, they can feel more empowered to turn up to that maternity hospital if they even have the slightest inkling that something is wrong and not care about the glances from medical staff that say “she’s just neurotic”.

When the outcome I am living with is the other option, please – be as neurotic as you like. Print this out and take it with you. Ask them how they’d feel at the front of that coffee queue.

I’ve just given birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy. He’ll never replace Grace, but he’s the sort of happy ending that should come at the end of every pregnancy. With more research and greater awareness, we can make sure that is case.

Visit sands.org.uk