Kate Silverton can’t quite believe that her little girl is already preparing for her move to senior school.
Flash back to almost 12 years ago, and the former BBC News presenter was unsure whether she and ex-Royal Marine husband Mike Heron would ever be able to conceive a child naturally.
The couple endured a gruelling IVF experience, which included several unsuccessful rounds of treatment, and which Kate has since admitted was often made harder by her high-pressure job.
But their lives changed forever when in 2011, aged 40, she made the joyous discovery she was pregnant, and they welcomed their beautiful daughter Clemency Florence Rose that November.
Now, with her first-born preparing to say goodbye to her primary school pals, 52-year-old Kate says seeing her daughter growing up is bittersweet.
"There’s this lovely, delicious sense of her still being my baby," she smiles. "She’s still my gorgeous little girl, but equally, I’m delighted to see how she’s maturing and developing. Her confidence is just growing ahead of going to senior school – it’s a lovely rite of passage for her to go through."
Following Clemency’s arrival, Kate told her fans, "The love I feel for her is overwhelming. Just watching her little face and her expressions means everything to me."
And just over two years later, Kate and Mike announced they were expanding their family, despite previously believing that conceiving more children would be nigh-on impossible.
"Mike and I are very happy to share that Clemency is set to become a big sister," Kate tweeted in 2013, and in June the following year, their son Wilbur was born.
In 2020, the former journalist made the unexpected decision to leave her broadcasting career and train as a children’s counsellor, and she has since worked with hundreds of families who struggled to conceive.
“I learned a lot in my own journey,” Kate recalls. “My advice for someone going through the early stages of IVF is, first and foremost, find out if there’s a reason behind the infertility.” Kate lost an ovary during an operation to remove a cyst when she was 29 and was later told she was unlikely ever to get pregnant naturally.
"I had physiological issues," she explains. "But there can also be a lot to do with stress. When we respond to stressors – such as work or difficult family circumstances – adrenaline and cortisol are constantly being triggered, and these hormones don’t create the best environment.
"We want to facilitate the optimum chances for us to conceive, whether with IVF or naturally. I didn’t do that. I was going off to Afghanistan and jabbing myself with IVF [drugs], and looking back now, I think, ‘Why? Why did I do that?’. But you can get caught up."
Kate now believes she’s in a good position to offer advice to those in the middle of what can be a very painful journey.
"Take care of you," she insists. "Because the process of IVF takes its toll physically as well as mentally. I did a lot of therapy, and I’m convinced that’s what helped me to conceive.
"Nutrition and sleep were also key. And you need to look at your wider environment and try not to see yourself as being on the back foot. Take control of your circumstances. Throw yourself into it and keep yourself open.
"I got to the point where I accepted that we weren’t going to be able to have children, so we went the full journey. I understand the heartache, I really do."
After welcoming her daughter, Kate suffered a miscarriage at six weeks, and now says that her stubborn attitude and desire to quickly move on proved to be detrimental in her recovery.
"Another important thing in these circumstances is being able to grieve if things don’t go according to plan," she says. "We have to learn how to grieve, because all that stress has to come out somehow.
"I’ve counselled lots of women who phoned to tell me they’d had a miscarriage, and I’d tell them, ‘You’ve got to grieve. You can’t just do what comes naturally and say that you’re fine, because you’re not.’
"I know I definitely did that, but I tell these women that I want to see snot and tears, because getting those things out clears the way for the next stage."
With her own little ones growing up fast and her second parenting book soon to be published, Kate believes she’s fulfilling her destiny in assisting parents-to-be.
These include her former Strictly Come Dancing partner, Aljaž Škorjanec and his It Takes Two hostess wife Janette Manrara, who are expecting their first child soon.
"They’re going to be amazing parents – absolutely," Kate gushes over her old friends.
Aljaž, 33, and Janette, 39, delighted fans with news of their pregnancy in February after they’d previously spoken about their hopes to start IVF treatment following unsuccessful attempts to conceive naturally.
"To know that another woman, who has also had the uncertainty and heartache that can come with trying for a baby for a longer time than feels comfortable, is expecting, is amazing," Kate beams. "It meant the world when I found out they’re pregnant."
In recent weeks Kate has teamed up with baby brand Stokke to give parents expert advice on how they can help children build their own identities.
"I’m trying to raise awareness for parents of how their children’s brains develop," she says. "I say that the face is the best toy for babies because lots of neural connections are made in the first year.
"Every smile, every eyebrow raise, every twitch of the nose, our children’s brains are soaking up and trying to make sense of."
Kate is working with premium baby and children’s brand Stokke as part of their Early Years campaign, which aims to help parents raise confident and happy children.
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