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"I was so scared of losing her": emotional Lily Allen reveals battle with daughter's illness

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Lily Allen has opened up about the extreme high and lows of her life, including a second trimester miscarriage and a traumatic battle with a rare illness her eldest daughter, Ethel, suffered as a baby.

In an emotional interview with BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, the 29-year-old singer described for the first time how her daughter Ethel was diagnosed at birth with a condition called laryngomalacia, meaning she struggled to put on weight and had to be fed through a tube for several months.

"I was so scared of losing her the whole time really and I tend to go into shut-down mode when things are bad," Allen told the programme's host Kirsty Young.

"All I wanted to do was just breast-feed her and to sit there in my chair with her and spend those precious hours into the night looking after your child.

"But Sam [her builder husband Sam Cooper] was amazing. He would go and defrost the breast milk and try and try to feed her all night. I don't know where I would be without him."

Lily and her daughter Ethel in May this year

"When she was really, really little the doctors said she had to have an operation to correct it and then that didn't work so she had to have it again," she added.

"And she was tiny, she'd lost so much weight and then as a result of that, because of what happened before with my previous, it was just a really tough time.

"She just had to be tube-fed for about seven months, eight months. But she's fine now, absolutely fine."

Lily Allen performing at Glastonbury this weekend

Allen, who performed at Glastonbury this weekend, said she was all the more scared of losing Ethel, now aged two, after she and Cooper previously suffered the stillbirth of a baby boy six months into their pregnancy in 2010.

"When we lost our first, I remember thinking it's just so bizarre that I seem to have all these really unique experiences, you know, the highs along with the lows," she said.

"From playing on the main stage at Glastonbury to 70,000 people to losing a child, it's just, everything seemed to be extremes."

As part of her appearance on Desert Island Discs, Allen chose the song I Would Rather Go Blind by Etta James which she associates with her stillbirth.

"It's quite difficult to talk about it," she said.

"Sometimes I think that listening to certain songs can be really helpful to take you back to a certain place.

"I lost a child three years ago now, and I just remember leaving the hospital empty-handed, so to speak, and driving from Homerton in Hackney, all the way down to Gloucestershire and this song being on a CD that Sam was playing and in a weird way it's just a nice song to kind of connect to."

Sam and Lily at their wedding in 2011

Allen met Cooper wed in early 2011, nearly two years after meeting at Glastonbury. She credited him with saving her from dependence on drugs and an eating disorder, saying: "I was really manic and on the road at the time."

The couple now have two daughters, Ethel and Marnie, and divide their time between London and Gloucestershire.

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features

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