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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Right time for a baby: Transcript
NB: THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A TRANSCRIPTION UNIT RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT: BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF MIS-HEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY, IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY.

PANORAMA

Right Time For a Baby? RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC ONE DATE: 18:06:06


KATE SILVERTON: More and more

women in the UK are delaying motherhood.

CHERYL SMALLE: I've always wanted children, so I knew I was gonna have some at some point, it just weren't gonna be at the younger end. I just knew it was gonna be a bit later.

KATE: 30 somethings have been choosing fun first, and babies later.

HELEN WHYSALL: People used to say to me: "You are such a hedonist." I'd go: "Yeah! It's great, isn't it." Because.. you know, there's nothing wrong with that, but you just can't do it forever.

KATE: Not many 20 somethings know the risks involved in trying to have it all.

REBECCA HAWORTH: It's terrifying to think that one day you may wake up with a fantastic career, but what help is that gonna be to me in my 60's if I've got now grandchildren?

KATE: One in five women will never give birth, and that figure is set to rise.

LINDA TOWSE: Well, the role that I'm wanting, the role of the mother, is sort of, you know, not within my grasp at the moment. And that's sort of, that's what I find quite, sort of, saddening really.

KATE: The UK's now facing a baby shortage.

ASHLEIGH: Ok baby, ok baby, come on now.

KATE: Because women are ignoring their biological clock. Women are having babies later in life, and, consequently, fewer of them. The trend is being driven by better educated women choosing career first, children later - women like me.

24 BBC NEWS RTS News Channel of the Year KATE: Hello, a very good morning. You're watching BBC News 24 with Simon McCoy and Kate Silverton.

SIMON: It's just after half past eight, a summary of the news this morning¿..

JONATHAN GRANT: Fertility has been declining right across Europe over the last 20 years, such that every European country has fertility now below the level needed for a population to replace itself. 21 of the 25 lowest fertility countries in the world are now in Europe.

KATE SILVERTON Well, like many thousands of women in their 30's, I love my career, my financial independence, and the lifestyle that goes with it. But where does having a baby fit into all of that, if at all? I'm 35 now, am I, like so many others, now in danger of leaving it too late? Is there ever a right time to have a baby?

JONATHAN GRANT Policy Analyst, RAND Europe The proportion of women who are not having any children, either through choice, or not through choice, is actually increasing over the last few years, to around one fifth of the population.

KATE: So, the bottom line is we're having babies later than our mothers, and grandmothers did. The average fertility rate in England and Wales is currently less than two births per couple. Well below the level needed to replace the population. So, why are so many of us putting off having babies? I'm off to South Yorkshire for a snapshot of the lives behind the headline. Sheffield is home to more than half a million people. They city has one of the busiest maternity hospitals, and most successful infertility units in the country. Each year, more than six and a half thousand babies are born at Jessop wing. Just the place to find out then, when is the right time for a baby?

I'm meeting Cheryl, who's 36. She teaches parenting skills to pregnant teenagers, so she knows all about babies, in theory. She's about to find out what it's like in practice. She's 8 ½ months pregnant with her first child. Cheryl's typical of time poor, working women, who delay motherhood.

CHERYL SMALLE When you're ready, you're ready.

KATE: So what made you ready?

CHERYL: I think I found the right guy. I hope I have anyway.

NIGEL: Look, my head swells.

CHERYL: For me personally, it was just finding the right guy, finding the right guy for me.

NIGEL JORDAN I think 30-35 is the right time to have a child, I really do. Especially in this day and age. And I think as well that, you can give a child more, besides love, in terms of providing shelter, a home, a nice environment to bring the child up in. You can't always do that when you're 16, or 18, or 19, because you haven't fulfilled everything you want to do in life.

KATE: Cheryl's days away from starting maternity leave. Most working women get at least £108 a week for the 6 months they're off. They're entitled to take a year, but the last 6 months are unpaid. Few can afford to take it.

CHERYL; The pay itself is, to be, well to be quite blunt, is rubbish. I would like to take a year out, but I'm only taking 6 months. And, you know, sometimes I just think oh my gosh, I'm gonna be leaving my baby at 6 months.

KATE: Paid maternity leave will be extended to 9 months from April next year. Despite this, the UK's financial package for new mothers remains well below the European average. So that's for his¿

KATE: His first outfit.

CHERYL: His first outfit

KATE: First on camera

CHERYL: Yeah.

KATE: And, oh look. Oh actually, now I'm getting broody.

CHERYL: (laughs) oh, I'll show you more.

KATE: First thoughts, after meeting Cheryl and Nigel¿ I feel more emotional than I thought I would, and feel stupid for feeling emotional. It's lovely, I think, to see them, Cheryl at 36, having fulfilled her dream, she always knew she'd have children. And they're so sorted. They've got everything organised, everything sorted, which is brilliant. I guess, for me, it hit when I picked up that brush, the baby brush, and, and felt more emotional than I thought I would. That's it really, I think, for the moment. I didn't think it would hit me that hard, but it has.

And here's why. After years of problems, I had an ovary removed 7 years ago. My surgeon warned me then to start thinking about children, and I haven't, for fear I can't.

You can keep talking about your career, and, and all these thins that tell you why you should be putting off having a baby, and you can be really rational about it. And, what I experienced in there just now, was totally irrational, and totally emotional, and that's the crux of this I think. It's the difference between how you think about you've got to make a choice when you want to have a baby, and it becomes something that just takes you over, rather than you sort of trying to be over rational about it.

Source: Eurostat One group of women in the UK is consistently having babies. Teenage mums. They account for 6% of all births. The government doesn't have a population policy, but it wants to halve the number of pregnancies to under 18's by 2010. So far it's struggling to hit the target.

ASHLEY: Hi yah.

JANE: How are you?

ASHLEY: I'm alright thanks.

KATE: Ashleigh's nearly 9 months pregnant. The government would prefer if she weren't. Ashleigh's 18 now, she left home 3 years ago. She gets £45 a week in benefits, and is used to living on a tight budget. Even with a baby on the way.

ASHLEIGH: These are really good, cos these were form a pound shop. See, majority of this stuff, I've bought things like, there's cardigans as well, knitted, properly knitted stuff. So one of my friend's mums knitted everything.

KATE: That's lovely. Look at the little hat.

ASHLEIGH: That's what Scott's mum's bought. This was nice cos, my¿.

KATE: What about those people that say it's such a shame, you know, it's naïve to think you're gonna be able to have the life that you really want, and that you want your child to have. You should have waited. What would you say to that?

ASHLEIGH THOMAS EPSLEY I think it's naïve for them to say that. Because there's so many young mums out there, that are managing and have done it. And I've, you know what I mean, I've seen it with my own eyes. So, well who's to say I can't do it, who's to say I'm not a strong enough person to do it? And what am I, what is all this missing out, what am I missing out on? Where's this big thing where I'm missing out? Because, if I wasn't being at home, being a mother, what would I be doing? Would they rather me be out drinking and smoking in the streets, and getting an ASBO, (laugh) you know what I mean? Would they rather be a binge drinker on an ASBO, getting locked up every night? Or, do you know what I mean? This is, it's sort of, it's funny to say it, but teenage mum's are keeping kids off the street as well, in the same sense. You know what I mean? Otherwise they'd be out on the street, and sort of, being a kid. Agh! Scott, you're hurting me.

KATE: Ashleigh planned to have her baby with her boyfriend Scott, who's just turned 17. Today they're getting ready to go for a final antenatal check up at the Jessop, with a consultant who specialises in caring for teenage mums.

DR KAREN SELBY: So I think that we should just wait and see if these tight¿he's moving now. See if these tightenings do anything over the next couple of days. We'll see you back on Wednesday. Is that alright?

ASHLEIGH: So, my appointment will be earlier, cos it's at 10, when I'm supposed to be at the clinic.

SELBY: Ashleigh is top of the range, I think, of getting herself really organised. But she's not alone in that. They are very independent, they know what they want, and they'll tell you what they want.

KATE: Do you share the concerns then, do you think we should be bringing down teenage pregnancy rates?

Dr KAREN F. SELBY Consultant Gynaecologist I think there are still areas that teenagers are getting pregnant when they don't want to be, and aren't knowledgeable about enough about themselves, their bodies, the use of contraception, and all these sorts of things. However, there are going to be teenagers that get pregnant and choose to be pregnant. And, should we be the one that judge them and say that that's not what they should do? And there are positive things, as you can see with Ashleigh.

KATE: Ashleigh said that the optimum age for giving birth, is between 18-25, she says in physical reasons alone.

SELBY: And I think she's right , you know. I'm a 37 year old new mum, and Ashleigh's got much more energy than I have. Life doesn't end just because she's had a baby. You know, she goes on and does what she wants to do, I come back to a career that I already have. It's just a different stage that she's entering that ladder really.

KATE: So you're a 37 first time mum. Oh, that gives me hope. Why did you delay?

SELBY: For my career. Yeah, I was a consultant for a year before I became pregnant and had my first little boy. And I was off for 9 months, and now I've come back to work full time.

KATE: As well as a busy maternity unit, Jessop wing's also home to one of the country's most successful NHS treatment centres for infertile couples. Some 1800 of them seek help every year. The unit's run by one of the country's leading infertility experts.

Professor BILL LEDGER Head of Assisted Conception Unit The most rapidly rising group of mothers having children, is in women well over 30, and in fact now into their 40's. But the corollary to that is, there's a greater groups who are never having children at all, because they left it too late. A greater group who are coming through for IVF or other fertility treatments, in order to correct for the fact that they've left it until very late on, and a lot more couples who are only having 1 child because they're too old to have a second or a third.

Source: Office for National Statistics KATE: In the past 10 years, the number of women becoming mothers in their 40's has doubled, while women in their 20's have turned away from having babies in huge numbers. Births for this group, have dropped by some 25%. But few women are aware of the risks of postponement. Research involving women in the IVF clinic helped this young medical student realise she can't ignore her biological clock.

REBECCA HAWORTH Medical Student I mean, in an ideal world it would be brilliant to, you know, have kids by, you know, mid 20's, late 20's, and have a career that I've worked so hard for. But realistically, you know, my friends and I will qualify at 23, I mean the last thing you want to do, you know, you want to travel the world, you don't want kids. But yeah, it's definitely time to start thinking about it.

KATE: Really? You mean at 21. Have you changed your mind since doing the research that you did here?

REBECCA: Yeah, from being in the infertility clinics definitely. Because, you know, as somebody who's supposed to be reasonably well educated about it, you know, I came here, and I had no idea that a) you know, there was such a massive drop after the age of 35 in fertility, and b) you know, you think well I'll leave it as late as I can, and if I can't conceive naturally, there's always IVF. But actually, IVF isn't that reliable.

KATE: Linda Towse is 45. She's been trying to get pregnant for the past 5 years. Before deciding to try for a baby she enjoyed a long and successful acting career, including appearances in one of the country's most successful soaps.

Coronation Street Granada Television

LINDA TOWSE I have sort of managed to sort of fulfil a few of my sort of goals, you know. I think my first was to sort of work with Bet Lynch on Coronation Street. That was great. The one role that I'm wanting, the role of the mother, is sort of, you know, not, not within my grasp at the moment. And that sort of, that's what I find quite, sort of saddening really.

LEDGER: What happens to a woman's fertility is that it declines quite rapidly. And what a lot of people don't realise is quite how big the difference is between 35, when fertility is not much different from when that person's 25, and 40, when most women will find it very difficult to conceive at all.

LINDA: My clock didn't start ticking till I was 40. I held my friends baby, and I'd never wanted babies before then, and went oh, I want one of these. I love, this is, you know, and suddenly it's like, Kelvin. So that was at 40, you know, literally at 40.

KATE: Linda and her husband Kelvin had been having IVF treatment at private clinics for the past 2 years, without success. It's taken its toll emotionally, and physically.

LINDA: It's exhausting, and am I, or aren't i? You get you ovulation test out, and you get your pregnancy, you know, well actually I've never even got to that, the pregnancy test, I sort of always known. And we're being realistic. Oh, it's a full moon tonight, you know, it's all that sort of thing. So it does get hard, it's hard, emotionally it's hard.

KATE: Conceiving naturally over the age of 35 is something of a lottery. A woman's chances of having a baby will halve before she turns 40. Helen's won of the winners. She's 38 and has had 2 children in the past 3 years. She gave up a successful career as a marketing consultant to have them.

HELEN WHYSALL I always said there's no way on earth I'd be a stay at home mum. All, you know, almost in a derisory way, which is really awful because¿

KATE: Why?

HELEN: I don't know, I just, in my 20's I didn't have the respect for it. I didn't see it as a, you know, a valuable role really, which is really sad. I went from loving work, to loving this. You know, I've no idea where the, you know, when it happened, but it was called having children I guess.

KATE: The number of women marrying younger men has almost doubled in 25 years. Helen's husband John is 6 years her junior. He was in his 20's when they met, and children just weren't on his agenda.

JOHN WHYSALL It's not something I'd really thought about in my 20's, to be honest. Didn't give much consideration because it seemed a long way off.

KATE: What sort of parents would you have made, do you think, in your 20's?

JOHN: Terrible.

HELEN: Terrible. Well, I can only describe being a parent as a totally selfless thing, and I wouldn't have wanted to be selfless in my 20's. I would have been anything but.

Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

KATE: It costs more than £50,000 to bring up a child, so most couples just can't afford for one parent to be at home full time. Helen admits she's lucky not to have to work. It is interesting how it's made me think much more seriously about having children. What it means, what sacrifices you'd have to make, how selfless you have to be, which we all talk about, but you look at that and that is it. Being there for your children. And for me that would mean giving up more of my career than I'd anticipated, because I do want to me at home for the formative years for my children. That's just something I think is just engrained in me, and I hadn't really thought about that properly until I spoke to Helen just now. And she identified that, and I think that's probably one of my biggest stumbling blocks, is that I do want to be at home. How do I reconcile that with my career. But the I hear myself saying all this, and then I also hear my sister saying well that is life Kate, wake up, smell the coffee, make the choices and get on with it.

Source: Institute for Public Policy Research

KATE: Having babies can seriously damage you career and earnings. A woman who has a baby at 24 can end up losing more than half a million pounds in lifetime earnings. Mothers who opt to work part time for just a year, will see their long term earnings drop by 10%. The government has introduced flexible working for parents, but there are calls for it to do more to encourage motherhood in women's career building years.

Professor BILL LEDGER Head of Assisted Conception Unit There's no doubt in my mind that if you make things easier for young women to take a sensible career break, have the children, and come back into work force at more or less the same place from which they left, they will take that opportunity in large numbers.

Source: Office for National Statistics KATE: And the women who delay motherhood, very often earn the most, so they've the most to lose if they take a career break or reduce their hours. It's not surprising then that in Sheffield, just as in the rest of the UK, the fertility rate in some of the richest areas, is as low as half the national average. It's women in economically deprived areas who are having more babies. In the 3 poorest wards in the city, the fertility is well above the national average. Ashleigh's been in labour for 10 hours. She's just had a local anaesthetic.

ASHLEIGH: But I just felt like I was letting myself down having the epidural. But I'm not, supposed to experience¿ I'm only a child, I'm not supposed to experience this sort of pain.

ASHLEIGH: (puffing heavily on the gas) Right, so I'll describe the pain to you. Having a massage done by a big butch guy, and you're starting to think, whoa that's a bit rough. It's like that, times a million.

KATE: 4 hours on, and it's time for more pain relief.

MIDWIFE: Same as before, I'll give you a little bit to start with.

ASHLEIGH: Yeah. Just give me it all.

KATE: 7 hours later.

ASHLEIGH: It's a wonderful experience.

KATE: It looks it.

ASHLEIGH: No pain whatsoever. I just wanna see his face.

KATE: After 22 hours in labour Ashleigh's baby boy finally arrives. She and Scott name him Rio. Did it make me want to become a mother? Yeah, as I was watching all of that I just though, I would like to be doing what she's doing. Painful though it may have been, I just thought I want one of those.

Later pregnancies are riskier for mother and baby. Rates of Down Syndrome and spina bifida rise sharply for women over 35. Cheryl also suffers from a rare liver condition that puts her life at risk when pregnant. She wanted a baby so badly, she hasn't even told Nigel of the dangers. The doctors have booked Cheryl in for a Caesarean. It's 3 weeks before he due date, and they're worried she's started having contractions.

MIDWIFE: If you've any sign whatsoever that you're going into labour, you'll probably want to act sooner rather than later, and do something to get baby out.

KATE: Cheryl's liver specialist is concerned about the potential dangers.

Mr IAN CAMERON Consultant Surgeon People who do get pregnant, particularly if they go into spontaneous labour, can have a significant bleed from this, which can potentially be life threatening, which is why she's been under very close supervision throughout the whole of her pregnancy.

KATE: Cheryl's contractions stopped in time. The planned Caesarean can go ahead, and Nigel's still none the wiser.

CHERYL: Very informative, got my tablets to take for tonight at 10, and tomorrow at 6. I'm gonna relax and try and get some sleep. Don't want to get too excited, over-excited. I need to get some rest. So¿ this will be my last nights sleep as they say. Sleep deprivation will happen.

KATE: Linda's been told that she has growths in her womb called fibroids. They're one of the most common causes of fertility problems in childless women over 30. Having tried, and failed, to get pregnant at private clinics, she's turned to Professor Ledger, at Sheffield's Assisted Conception Unit for help.

LINDA: I'm having an operation to remove some fibroids, actually until I actually see Professor I don't know, we don't know exactly where and how many. So that's really the next stage. To see if that actually will help with the infertility

Professor BILL LEDGER Head of Assisted Conception Unit There's a sadness behind every couple that come through. We can reverse it, and they have happy family life, and they're back on track again, but there's a lot more who leave after 3 or 4 goes and have to move on in life without achieving one of the most important things they set out to.

Source: Office for National Statistics

KATE: As more and more women in their 40's are trying to get pregnant, more and more women are having abortions. In 2004 there were over a 185,000 terminations in England and Wales, the biggest increase has been to women in their 20's. It's more than doubled in the past 30 years.

I wanted to ask you, I know it's a very personal question, Linda, but you did have a termination in your 20's.

LINDA: Oh, yes. Many years ago. It was just, I wasn't ready, I wasn't with a stable partner, and there was no question. I wouldn't be with Kelvin now if that hadn't of happened, and I wouldn't change anything. I don't think either of us would.

KATE: It must be quite schizophrenic in a way for you, that you also perform abortions of course, and then the next day you'll be in helping somebody, as you say, who desperately, desperately wants a child.

LEDGER: Yes, it's medicine. It's no different from the lives of many other doctors who are doing different tasks in different parts of their job. You can't help sometimes but wish that you could somehow merge the 2 together. But on the other hand, having been old enough to work in an environment where free access to abortion was not possible for young people who ere pregnant, and seeing the disasters that happened there, I think I'm very comfortable with the idea that what we have in Britain at the moment is the least worst scenario.

KATE: Cheryl's big day has finally arrived. She's on her way to hospital to have her Caesarean.

CHERYL: Do you know it's¿ I don't think you can describe, there's no words I don't think. I'm just happy, I'm just happy and excited and can't wait, and you know, I just want to cuddle, hold, feel, just be a mum. Just be a mum. And I'm just looking forward to it. I really, really am.

KATE; As are we all. So, I think we're gonna leave you to¿

NIGEL: Yeah.

KATE: Prepare yourselves, and we look forward to seeing you both.

CHERYL: Definitely.

KATE: Well, really, all the best.

KATE: The surgeons have just told Nigel how worrying Cheryl's liver condition really is. A team of specialists is on standby, just in case she bleeds during the Caesarean. Outside theatre, Nigel waits as Cheryl's C-section gets under way. After nearly 2 hours, and without any complications, Cheryl gives birth to a healthy baby boy.

CHERYL: Look how little he is. Definitely, definitely worth waiting for.

KATE: Hello. How are you?

CHERYL: I'm fine. Oh they're beautiful. (receiving flowers from Kate) They're beautiful. This is Brandon.

KATE: Hi Brandon.

NIGEL: He doesn't talk. (laughs)

KATE: Hi beautiful. Oh he's amazing.

NIGEL: He is. He's gorgeous isn't he? Do you want a hold?

KATE: Oh my Lord, I had washed my hands before I came in. Oh thank you.

CHERYL: That's ok.

KATE: Look at you. He's just beautiful.

NIGEL: He's got a crop of hair. Look at his hair.

KATE: You were in your mummy's tummy just a little while ago.

CHERYL: Yes, just a lickle while ago. Then all of a sudden.

KATE: So how was it?

CHERYL: It wasn't bad at all actually. It really wasn't.

KATE: I want to see you with him as well. (placing baby in Cheryl's arms)

CHERYL: So any thoughts of having one yourself then?

KATE: Oh listen, I'm in turmoil. I am, I ma in turmoil. I thought I had it all really rational, you know, it can all wait, but¿. You just want me to join the club. Alright, ok, take it easy guys, lots and lots of love.

I wasn't prepared for that hitting me like that. I'm feeling really selfish now, because I was so delighted, and they're just so, such a beautiful unit, and, you know, they've done everything right. And she's had medical problems, and she's been really positive and got through it. And then, you know, I come in here and blub, and I'm thinking¿ because I'm thinking, I won't have that.

LEDGER: My message, as a doctor who works with infertile couples, is that life gives women a large number of years in which to conceive, but it's a limited life span. It's not the same as for men. It's not fait, but it's biology. And, I just think people need an awareness that, if having children if important in their lives, they need to get on with it by age 30 and a bit. Because, they may want more than one child, and if they do hit problems and need help, it gives us enough time to help them before they get into their late 30's.

KATE: Linda's on her way to her appointment with Professor Ledger. She's expecting to hear about plans for her operation today. She's due to get a large fibroid removed from her womb. She's been told it will improve her chances of getting pregnant. What she's not expecting to hear is that a scan has shown her condition is even worse. She also has adenomiosis, swelling of the lining of the womb.

LEDGER: And you can't remove that by surgery. So, we can..

KATE: Adenomiosis is being detected more and more in older women who've delayed motherhood. Linda's only treatment option is a course of monthly injections, and its success isn't guaranteed. There's another setback. The drugs stop ovulation. So she definitely won't conceive while she's being treated.

LINDA: It's a shock isn't it?

LEDGER: It is. I mean, look at the irony of it. You know, you are a young person. You're not halfway through your life yet. You know, life expectancy for women in this country is very high, and yet, in reproductive terms, you're knocking right at the end of the door now. And it's a cruelty.

KATE: Linda's best option is to go ahead with the injections to improve the condition of her womb. She can then try IVF again. She still has frozen embryos from her previous infertility treatment. The new plan is to implant them, but only if the drugs do their job.

What happened?

LINDA: Well, it's all change. All change. I don't have to have the operation, but we've sort of decided on a new plan, cos I've still got these 3 embryos, and I've said we have to, I have to do something. And I said we have to create the best environment possible. And just keep our fingers crossed about the little embryos.

LEDGER: She has frozen embryos that were created from eggs that were collected from her when she was 43. So therefore the chances of them implanting and producing a viable pregnancy are not large. You would say between 5 or 10% of the time she'll have a live baby. And she only has the 3 frozen embryos, so that would be the last opportunity for her to have a child with her own eggs. The only place she can go now is using treatment with a donor egg from a younger woman, so it's not genetically her child, and that is a long and rocky road.

KATE: Today's been a really sobering day, and I'm getting more concerned about how little we know about our fertility. We see the success of mothers in their 40's, Madonna, Cherie Blair, and that's the message that I think stays in.. certainly in my head, that it's ok, because women can do it all. They can even get pregnant in their 40's and still have healthy children. And actually, when you look at the rates of failure, of course it's far, far higher. And I've spent the day today with Linda, who has had to face up to, and is probably sitting there discussing with her husband this evening, the fact that they have the narrowest of margins now, of getting pregnant.

KATE: The number of people having fertility treatment has doubled in the past 12 years. 75% of IVF treatment is private. Many patients believe this should be more widely available on the NHS. Like lots of couples, Linda and Kelvin got themselves into debt paying for their private treatment.

LINDA: We spent £5,00, we might as well have just sort of gone to a casino. You know, it is that big a gamble. I think it's getting to be a little bit too much of an easy option to suggest IVF. It's not anger I'm feeling, it's, it's a little bit of something I hate to feel, and I hate feeling, I hate regrets. But I do have a regret that I didn't know this information, and I just didn't, you know, act sooner.

KATE: Do you think it's too late for you?

LINDA: As I say, there's that little window of opportunity. No I don't think it's too later. I don't. You know, I think that's perhaps why I refuse to get too angry, because I think anger eats away, I won't buy into that, because there is hope. Ask me in four months time. (laughs) After this treatment, maybe all hope has gone, but hope is never gone.

KATE: Back at Cheryl's, it's easy to see why.

CHERYL: Amazing. Worthwhile. Can't imagine not having him. You know, he'll be sleeping, quite contented, happy away, but I find myself going over to the buggy just to look at him and just to stare at him and say, oh my gosh. You know, you're real, you're here, you're mine.

KATE: I think I feel at peace, because I think now at least I have really opened the door to considering that I might have a baby. And, watching Cheryl and Nigel, and how, not easy they make it, because we all know it's not, but that you can do it, and all the financial implications and everything should really go out the window when you look at the result, and that's why I feel at peace now, and a little bit of sadness walking away, but I feel at peace thinking that perhaps I might have that one day.

When television first showed us how rape was investigated people were appalled. Twenty-five years on rape convictions are at an all time low. Why are rapists getting away with it. Rape on Trial, Panorama, next Sunday.

If you've been affected by any of the issues in tonight's programme and would like to talk to someone in confident, please call the BBC Action Line on 08000 155 327 The Action Line is open seven days a week from 7.30am until midnight and calls are free.

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