Mandy Allwood took fertility drugs, hired a publicist and counted the days until her octuplets were born - even though doctors told her most would likely die.
They were right.
She started miscarrying Monday, in the 19th week of her pregnancy, and by Wednesday night had lost all of them.
“It’s just tragic,” her publicist Max Clifford said. “We were all aware of the risks, and that this was a strong possibility or even probability, but it doesn’t diminish the tragedy when it actually happens.”
So ends a pregnancy that Britain followed with fascinated distaste.
For many, it began with Clifford striking a deal with a tabloid newspaper, the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World, which offered a six-figure sum on a sliding scale: the more births, the bigger the check.
At first, there was speculation the 32-year-old Allwood was getting $530,000 for the story, but later estimates reached as high as $1.55 million. The News of the World would not confirm any figure.
But for many, the amount was secondary.
“For most people life is priceless, not a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder,” The Mail on Sunday editorialized when the story first broke in August. Soon thereafter, the paper paid the fetus’ paternal grandmother for an exclusive interview.
Two other papers paid for their own exclusives.
The spectacle of life as auction still held sway on Wednesday, even as Allwood’s tiny offspring - between 5 ounces and 9 ounces and small enough to fit into the palm of a hand - ended their brief lives.
Defending himself Wednesday night against charges of exploitation, Clifford, whose previous clients include O.J. Simpson, said Allwood initiated every move. “The first person she contacted was her gynecologist, and the second was the P.R.,” he said.
Then there was the issue of Allwood’s health. Consultant obstetrician Donald Gibb said Wednesday that she should suffer no long-term physical damage, but doctors said she is still emotionally fragile.
It was never clear why Allwood sought the treatment. “She had already had two pregnancies without, as far as is known, any problems,” the Times of London medical writer Dr. Thomas Stuttaford wrote.
Allwood also never explained why she ignored medical advice to avoid unprotected sex because she was producing too many eggs, except to say that it was her right under law.
She began her affair with Paul Hudson while still married to Simon Pugh, the father of her son, Charles, 5, newspapers discovered. Pugh said she set up the stunt to save her relationship with Hudson, with whom he said she was infatuated.
Hudson was exposed by rival tabloids as a party-loving, bankrupt, would-be property developer who divided his nights between Allwood and another woman with whom he had two sons.
By summer, doctors told Allwood she would probably lose all the fetuses unless she immediately aborted six. She didn’t abort.
She miscarried the first of the eight, a son, on Monday. Two more, also boys, were lost the same night. The fourth baby, a girl, was lost during an examination early Wednesday. The final four, three boys and a girl, were lost Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday night, her staunchest backer, the anti-abortion lobby, continued to support her.
“She would always have wondered if her decision had been responsible for the deaths of all of her babies,” said Phyllis Bowman of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. “Instead, nature has taken its course.”
And the public relations campaign remained in full swing.
At a press conference, a tearful Clifford said the dead fetuses had been placed in a cot beside Allwood - the six boys with blue tags and the two girls with pink ones.