A Different Baby Shower

img_2197

For obvious reasons, baby showers make me feel a bit uncomfortable. In fact, until a couple of days ago, I’d never actually been to one. Baby showers were just starting to become popular around the time that I was pregnant with Ewan. In the background, in secret, my friends had just started to organise one and were looking at possible dates. It never progressed beyond the planning stage, for obvious reasons.

When I fell pregnant with Dylan, I was pretty vocal in saying that I didn’t want a baby shower. It was a difficult time and I didn’t enjoy the pregnancy as I should have. It was almost as if I thought having a shower would jinx things. And also it didn’t feel fair that this baby would have a shower when Ewan didn’t. To be honest I felt out of sorts quite a lot over that 9 months and I don’t think it was an unusual reaction. By the time Jude came along, I think the shower ship had just sailed!

Funnily enough none of my close friends have had showers either. Unless they did and just didn’t invite me!! Up until a couple of years ago I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. Maybe I still wouldn’t now.

img_2194 But the shower I went to this week was of a different nature. It was an adoptive baby shower. One of my bestest friends and her husband have been approved to adopt and will be bringing home their son in just over a week. All the papers have been signed, sealed and delivered. Matching panels complete, it is official as it can be. And pretty much everyone who knows them is absolutely bursting at the seams with excitement. With this in mind this was definitely one shower I wasn’t going to miss.

My friend and her husband have been on roller coaster ride for the past 6-7 years if not longer. I’m sure any couple who have struggled to have children will be able to identify. I sometimes think about how simply we view life when we are young. A mantra of growing up, settling down, getting a husband and having children is pretty much drummed into us all, with no concept of how difficult it might be. Or no idea words like miscarriage, stillbirth and infertility might become part of our everyday vocabulary. That we may not find the right partner … Or want to have kids at all.

I digress. Last night was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate my friend’s eventual and well deserved opportunity to create a family. Having met their little boy for the first time last week, they are now gearing up to spend a week or so getting to know him and his routines, his likes and dislikes. It will be amazing, tiring and emotional. And that is even before they bring him home permanently.

I hope having read this, whether you know them or not, you’ll join with me in wishing them all the love and happiness in the world. Raise your glass to new beginnings.

And finally I want to leave you with this photograph which I just thought was one of the loveliest things I have seen in a long time. Finally they have found their missing piece!

img_2203

Happy Happy Half Term

img_2014

I’ve decided a happy post is way overdue. Although the memory of half term is already fading, I wanted to share with you a couple of the fun things we got up to. Half terms are always particularly welcome for me seeing as I work in education. The first half term is always the hardest in my line of work, so by the time the break in October arrives, I am ready for some time off.

It was Dylan’s first school holiday, which was exciting for him, although given that he has absolutely LOVED his first half term at school, I think he was a tad disappointed not to be donning his uniform as normal. Thankfully the weather gods were beaming down on us for the first few days. I was off work Monday to Wednesday and the sun shone every day. No rainy day activities needed….. hurray!

Bolton Abbey

image1 img_2001

We visited Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire, about a 30 minute journey for us. My parents brought me here a lot when I was younger, but it was our first visit with the boys. I wished we’d brought them sooner because they absolutely loved it. It is a huge estate on the banks of the River Wharfe with a ruined abbey, woods, waterfalls, open fields and picnic areas. We only explored a little bit with them so plenty of reasons to return.

img_1999 img_1971

We took part in the Halloween Pumpkin walk, which was a trail through the woods counting sparkly pumpkins suspended from the trees and finding ‘coffins’ with Halloween related things inside e.g. spiders, toads, ghouls etc. There was a quiz which we had to complete and for the first time, Dylan carried the worksheet and (with our help with spellings), wrote down some of the answers. It was a real ‘wow, he is growing up’ moment. Jude had been asleep in the car so took a while to get going, but eventually perked up and loved opening all the coffin doors and running after his older brother.

image2 img_1981

Afterwards we had a picnic by the river. Picnics definitely rate highly in the list of Dylan’s most favourite things to do. Winter picnics are often better, with no wasps or flies to spoil the fun. It was so warm that even in the shade we sat with our coats off. The colour of the trees was stunning. It reaffirmed why Autumn is my favourite season by far.

Pendle Hill

img_2033 img_2032
Anyone who lives in, or has visited our beautiful corner of East Lancashire knows the local landmark hill, Pendle. We see it every day on the drive to school and Dylan loves being able to name it (although he shouts out that every other hill in the area is also Pendle, so we have a bit of work to do there). Jude went up last year in the baby carrier, but Dylan has never ventured up. A couple of his friends have climbed it, so he was keen to give it a shot.

We had decided to keep Jude in nursery for one of his scheduled days. He was in the process of moving from the baby room up to Toddlers, so we didn’t want to break his routine. After we dropped him off we drove straight to Barley, the village at the bottom of the hill.

img_2030

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if Dylan would make it to the top. But he was an absolute star. Once we got on the steps on the path up, he was like a little mountain goat. I kept asking if he wanted to rest (not that I wanted to!?!) but he kept saying he was fine. We managed to get him to stop for a bit to have a drink.
Again being another beautiful, clear day, the views were amazing. You can see for miles and miles. Dylan made it to the top of the steps all by himself. We allowed him a bit of time on Adam’s shoulders whilst we made the final short walk from the stairs to the summit. A few homemade chocolate and banana buns at the top and we were ready to go back down. One of my favourite photos taken was of Dylan trying to play hide and seek at the top. It is pretty sparse up there, but he managed to find some long grass to cover him. Pity his hat was bright red and gave him away!!

img_2038 img_2024 img_2022 img_2023
At the bottom, we treated ourselves to a pub lunch and sat by the log stove. I thought Dylan would be wiped out for the rest of the day but he wasn’t. Me? I was ready for bed by 3pm!

I’m hoping the weather will stay nice for us at the weekends to still get out over winter. I know we can still wrap up in waterproofs and wellies, but it is much nicer when the gloomy rain gives way to winter sun. Some more wonderful memories in the bank for us and hopefully for the boys, Dylan at least, to treasure. Happy days indeed.

img_2041 img_2027

Wave of Light

wave-of-light

7pm is usually getting out the bath and into pyjamas time in our house. I was panicking so much that I would miss the Wave of Light so I lit my candle a wee bit early and took photographs in advance to post.  #Waveoflight is now trending over social media as I type. In some ways it is tragic there are so many photographs of candles commemorating babies loved and lost, but how wonderful they can all be remembered and shared in this global community.

The SANDS Facebook post simply stated:

“For the light they brought into our lives, of which this candle is a living sign.”

I have pictured our candle with our angels and rainbows light. My mum’s cousin gave this to us last Christmas. It floored me a bit when I opened it. She had got everyone else in the family lights which were similar and had children/grandchildren on, I don’t know why but didn’t expect ours to include Ewan on as well as Dylan and Jude. I absolutely love it and it has pride of place in the living room.

“Our little Star is shining bright, his love exalted in the night. Watching over our Rainbows here who frolic and play with radiant cheer”.

Thinking of our little man tonight, and all the other angels sadly taken far too soon.

My love goes out to everyone who has lit a candle tonight.

#Waveoflight

xmas-light

A boxful of memories

panda

I once read an article about a mother who lost twin babies. She was sent home from hospital with a scrap of paper towel with the words ‘twin one’ and twin two’ and their birth weights. That was it. Nothing else. The scrap of paper was all she and her husband had to remind them of their babies. This was about 25 years ago. Thankfully things have moved on since then.

Creating and holding onto memories for a stillborn baby is one of the most important parts of the grieving and healing process. As the parents of a child which was never able to take its first breath, make that first step, utter a first word, experience the first day of school, the few memories we have are treasured and extremely precious.

Of course I have the memories stored away in my mind, but we also have a memory box filled with various things which all relate to Ewan. Things that are tangible that we can take out and look at.  I knew quite early on that I wanted to buy a special keepsafe. A beautiful box to keep everything in. An online search eventually took me to Reads Creations, a company making personalised wooden memory boxes. They had just what we wanted. And here it is. P1100237 P1100239

dylan-and-memory-box

We usually keep it in our wardrobe so it is neatly tucked away but easily accessible. One day I took it out and left it for a couple of days. Dylan took a shine to it and enjoying sitting on it. I managed to take what is one of my favourite but also most poignant photographs. When he is older he will understand the significance.

 

So what keepsafes do we have? Probably too many to mention so I’ll pick out a few for now.

cards

We received an overwhelming number of cards from family, friends and colleagues and struggled to find places to put them in the house. There were so many kind words and even those which said ‘I don’t know what to say’ still meant so much. Occasionally I will get them out and have a read through some of them. The photograph of my favourite cards is at the top – the pandas. It wasn’t even a bereavement card. It didn’t have any words, just a simple picture. Adam and I thought it summed up how we felt.

I still have cards to add to the box now. One of my dear friends sends me a card every year on Ewan’s birthday. She keeps his memory alive by recognising that he should have a card to celebrate like everybody else.

p1100251

This necklace holds a particularly strong memories for me. I was wearing it the day I went into hospital to find out his heart had stopped. I can visualise myself now, sat in a chair playing with it. I wore it again when I went to give birth and then to his funeral. I carried on wearing it for a while but started to worry I would lose it, so now have it tucked away for safe keeping.

 

p1100249Another dear friend gave me this cross-stitch a couple of months later. I can remember she gave it to me in what seemed to be a bit of an apologetic, ‘I hope you like it’ kind of way. I was so touched that she had gone to the effort of making something like this for us. It was incredibly thoughtful.

We have quite a few photographs. Obviously all his scan photographs are there, including one taken at the scan taken which determined he had died. I always feel a little bit funny about that one. Especially as I didn’t know it existed for a few months until my consultant handed it to me when I was pregnant with Dylan. We have all the photographs we took of him in the hospital. These are in a little album. They are mainly ones taken with our camera but some from the midwife too.

There is plenty more I could show you, but maybe for another day.

It’s at this point that I really want to acknowledge and thanks SANDS for their contribution to our memory box. If it wasn’t for the work SANDS did, particularly in the early days of the charity, then we wouldn’t have the memories we have now. It upsets me to think of the mother of twins in the article. Families left hospital with nothing and weren’t encourage to create their own memories. Instead it they were encouraged to forget and move on. SANDS worked hard to train professionals to make them realise that the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality didn’t work. Acting is though losing a baby never happened wasn’t going to help parents, instead it made it worse. By allowing parents to take photographs and hold their babies, it helped their grieving process enormously.

So for this I am eternally grateful.

Our memory box will also be a painful reminder of the loss of Baby Ewan, but it is also a source of comfort. A reminder of our support network and all the wonderful people who helped us through some dark and difficult times. It is a reminder that Ewan was loved and still is. And most importantly that his memory lives on.

A Bereaved Mother’s Guilt

fb-tw-profile_babylossawareness_-750-x-750-300x300

The first line of Saturday’s blog read ‘Being a mum can be hard sometimes. Really hard.’ It was at the end of a day where I didn’t feel like I’d been a very good mum. Not as good as I thought I should be.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to be a perfect mother. It’s ridiculous I know. I’m the kind of person who likes to be in control. I put pressure on myself to cope with anything and everything. I must cope, at all odds. I cannot say that things are too hard, I cannot crumble and I cannot fail.

Why am I like this?

I think part of it is in my nature and my personality. I’m sure anyone who knows me well, in particular those who have worked with me, would agree. But also it is in part down to what I can only and best describe as my burden of guilt, a bereaved mother’s guilt.

I feel so incredibly grateful that I have not one but two beautiful and healthy, living boys. They are good boys. Dylan was an absolutely perfect baby. He slept through from 3 months old, weaned like a dream and cut his baby teeth with barely a murmur. Jude has been a bit more challenging, in all aspects. But still he is much less troublesome than many other babies I know. They are both very sweet tempered and absolutely adore one another. We have been so so lucky.

Of course not every day pans out perfectly (does anyone’s?). Dylan had the terrible two’s at times and could tantrum with the best of them. He suffered from the usual toddler OCD (and still does) whereby food served with the wrong colour spoon or cereal with a splash too much milk would cause a meltdown. Jude having started out as a great sleeper, regressed at about 7 months old. At times an uninterrupted night sleep was very much the exception rather than the norm. Last winter it felt as though he was constantly ill, either bothered by teeth, a cold, sickness, diarrhoea and general whingeyness. It doesn’t feel as though summer has quite gone yet and already the never ending snot-stream has reappeared! Oh and Jude will be about to embark on the terrible two’s in the next few months.

But I think losing Ewan has affected my experiences of motherhood with his two younger brothers. Not in a practical sense, but more psychologically. It’s as though I don’t allow myself to have a bad day, or admit that sometimes it’s too hard. Because by saying that it’s like I’m smacking the face of every person out there who can’t be a parent. That I’m not appreciating what I have. Any mother who has lost a baby would much rather be delirious with sleep deprivation than with grief. They would give their right arm to deal with post-immunisation fever or walk up and down for hours to settle a colicky tummy.

There probably are people out there (especially in Social Media Land), who want to present to the world that parent-hood is fine and dandy, all roses and buttercups. Their parenting world is text-book and there are no negatives (well not that they talk about). Behind closed doors, we all wonder if life really is that perfect. I kind of do the same thing, ok not so much by presenting a perfect life, but trying as much as possible not to moan, or talk about the times when parenting feels sometimes just too hard. The guilt I carry stops me from doing that.

I think (and hope) that over time this will change and get better. As the boys get older, the challenges they present will change. Less about potty training and tantrums, and more about homework and social lives. Maybe as these are less baby related, they might make me think less about the baby we lost. Who knows? Maybe my cathartic method of getting the thoughts out of my head and onto a screen will help! And hopefully you won’t all think I’m crazy for publicising my personality flaws (remember, no-one is perfect!)

Writing as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week.

Breaking the Silence #babyloss

http://babyloss-awareness.org

 

Baby Loss Awareness Week

fb-tw-profile_babylossawareness_-750-x-750-300x300

Being a mum can be hard sometimes. Really hard. But not being a mum, when you really want to be. That’s a whole different ball game.

Tomorrow is the start of Baby Loss Awareness Week. If you asked me 6 years ago whether I’d heard there of such a week, my answer would have been no. If you asked me whether I would be sat up on a Saturday night writing about losing a baby, I would have thought you were mad.

But here I am. A bereaved mother. Unfortunately not alone, but one of many.

It is estimated that one in four women experience pregnancy loss. A quarter. 25%. Before our own loss, I knew of very few people who have been affected. In the few days following Ewan’s death, the number doubled if not tripled. People shared their own experiences or those of friends or relatives. Some were recent, others dated back 40 years. All too quickly, baby loss became far more common that I ever realised. Just less than 3 weeks after losing Ewan, one of my best friends received devastating news about her own pregnancy. The only slither of a silver lining being that I felt I was able to help her because of my own experience.

Talking about the loss of a baby is often taboo. I’ve often thought about why that is. I think generally as a society we don’t like to talk about death. We find it uncomfortable. People don’t know what to say to one another. Most likely for fear of saying the wrong thing. For some reason that is heightened when it is the death of a baby. Whether it is an early miscarriage or a full term pregnancy.

P1100244

Ewan at 12 weeks

As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week I am here to talk about it. Break the Silence. That has always been an aim of my blog, I just unfortunately don’t have the time to write often. But I’ll be honest, I do sometimes worry that people don’t want to read what I have to say about our experiences. I think I should write about jollier things. Silly really. If you don’t want to read, no-one is stopping you.

So unashamedly throughout this week I’ve decided to either write a new blog or share an old one every day. To commemorate but also to embrace. I’ll apologise in advance if they are upsetting (there is always a get out clause – you don’t have to read them). Hopefully for those of you who have ready my posts before, you will know that I try to look for the positives. You know that I consider us to be so incredibly blessed to have two amazing, beautiful, energetic and fun-loving boys, who have helped us to heal in so many ways. But know that we will never ever fully heal. Any bereaved parent will tell you the same.

Please take some time out of your busy lives to find out more about Baby Loss Awareness Week.  About the 24 amazing charities who are involved, who tirelessly raise awareness throughout the year and campaign for change.

http://babyloss-awareness.org/

If you know someone who has lost a baby, take time this week to acknowledge their loss. Whether it was last month, last year or 40 years ago. I am sure they will appreciate a hug or a few words so that they know you have been thinking of them.

Finally, if you can, join the Global Wave of Light on October 15th at 7pm. October 15th is International Pregancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Families all over the world will be remembering their babies who were taken too soon. Light a candle at 7pm and leave it burning for at least an hour. Post your photo to Facebook or Twitter to join the digital Wave of Light using #waveoflight

candles

A Great Run Up North

img_1340

 The day I was to run 13.1 miles for SANDS finally arrived! It’s not an over exaggeration when I say that I’ve been working towards this goal all year. 12 months ago I could just about manage 5km every week or so. Three days ago I quadrupled that effort and completed my fourth ever half marathon, my first in nine years. Most importantly due to the generosity of my family, friends and colleagues, my Justgiving total now stands at £2,278 for the SANDS research fund.

Here’s how my day went!

Adam and I woke up at 5.30am in our lovely comfy B&B room to the sound of Dylan singing ‘Bob the Builder, Can you fix it’?? He was ready to get up but we weren’t!! A few shushes and we managed to sneak another hour sleep before getting up. The owner kindly got up early too in order to serve us breakfast. We sat and chatted with a couple from Liverpool who were also going up to the run. I managed to stomach a bit of porridge, some fruit and yoghurt and poached egg, drooling at the sight of Adam’s amazing plate of sausage, bacon and black pudding!

img_1326

Breakfast done, we packed up and got on the road, exchanging ‘good luck’s with the Liverpudlian runner. On went the Rocky soundtrack to get me pumped and motivated. I’m a sucker for Sylvester Stallone’s boxing saga. It makes me think of the early days when Adam and I first got together. I’d never seen it before and he introduced me to each chapter over consecutive weekends.

img_1329

The nerves started to kick in as we approached Newcastle. We parked the car just after 9am in the city centre near the Metro and followed the crowds to the start line. Even though the race didn’t begin until 10.40am, with 40,000+ runners plus spectators, we didn’t want to risk being late. Dylan enjoyed seeing all the people and picking out the runners in fancy dress. I told him I wanted him to tell me about all the different characters he saw when I finished. We parted ways as they went to find a place to watch the start. I queued for my last toilet break and collected the safety pins for my running number that I’d forgotten to pack. I knew a few other people taking part but with the huge volumes of runners (it is the world’s biggest half marathon you know!), meeting up just wasn’t an option.

img_1333

I finally found my starting ‘pen’ after walking past thousands of others. Given my predicted time I was near the back of the pack. And then I waited, and waited and waited. The start gun went. I waited some more, the Red Arrows flew over, waited a bit more again and then 32 minutes after the start I crossed the line!

img_1348

Waiting patiently for mummy!

My first priority once running got underway was to find Dylan and Adam. We made sure that co-ordinated so I was on the right side for them to see me. After a couple of minutes I saw them, Dylan on Adam’s shoulders waving. I managed a high five with them both, big smiles all around and then after that I was able to properly settle into the race.

So, I haven’t mentioned the heat yet. How can I have got 500 words into this blog without talking about how incredibly flipping hot it was. We spent half of July staring out at rain dripped windows and in September suddenly the country breaks into an unexpected heatwave! That was the first real obstacle. Adjusting to a race that could have been in Nigeria instead of Newcastle. I took advantage of the majority of the first mile going under the city underpasses and then afterwards tried as much as possible to go along the shaded parts of the streets, although there weren’t many of these.

img_1336

We crossed the Tyne Bridge (always exciting) and apart from being hot, I felt as though the first 5km was pretty comfortable. Although there are A LOT of people running, I remembered why I love the Great North Run. For one the crowds are amazing. There aren’t many sections of the race where there aren’t spectators shouting encouragement, handing out jelly babies or ice pops. Secondly I love reading all the different running shirts and seeing who people are running for. Some people think that runners are crazy putting themselves through the torture and pain of training and racing, but it truly is an amazing sight looking at all the good causes and thinking how many charities will be benefitting as a result of this one half marathon. I saw a few SANDS runners. I didn’t pass many of them (it was generally them passing me) but for those I did, I tried to have a bit of a chat and motivational high five with them.

The heat aside, I felt like I was doing pretty well and enjoying myself until about mile 10. At that point I was thinking ‘all the hard work done, not far to go now, it’s only a parkrun (5k) which I do every Saturday’. I might even have stupidly thought ‘easy’! I think that caused me to hit the brick wall. My legs turned to jelly, every leg muscle ached and every joint groaned. Olympic walkers would easily have overtaken me as I stumbled along. The last 3 miles were pretty much pure agony. So rather than dwell on it (I want to wipe it from memory) lets skip onto the finish.

img_1358

YEY I finished!! The last mile along the seafront seemed to go on forever but finally it ended. I’ve got to give a massive thank you to the commentator at the end, who, at the time I rolled in was encouraging the crowd to give us a standing ovation and huge cheers. They obeyed, and honestly I felt like I’d just won an Olympic medal! Crossing the line I managed to keep it together physically and didn’t collapse! Mentally I almost crumbled and cried, but again just kept a hold of myself.

img_1353 img_1352

After collecting my medal and bag, I eventually managed to make my way to meeting Adam and Dylan. It was too busy for them to stand at the finish, Adam instead keeping Dylan entertained watching the Red Arrows display. Hugs all round and an ice cream for Dylan (it has been a long day for him), it was great to see them both. It had definitely been the right decision leaving Jude with my parents, he would have enjoyed the planes but that would have been about it!

The journey home was long and tiring, but all in all it was a great day. My time?? 2 hrs 34. Not my worse and not my best. To be honest, given how I’ve felt over the past couple of weeks, I was happy to get through the full 13.1 miles and finish. Completing this was less about the time, and more about raising money and raising awareness of stillbirth. And for Ewan to know that I ran it for him.

If you would like to donate to SANDS, please visit my Justgiving page www.justgiving.com/runningforewan

img_1364

A well earned bath

12 months later….

img_1298

Almost 12 months ago, I wrote a blog making a bold statement. That I was going to take part in the Great North Run in a years time. Here I am, on the eve of said race, sat in a lovely B&B farmhouse near Hadrian’s Wall, about 40 minutes away from Newcastle. It looks like I’m doing it then!

img_1306

Adam and I drove up to the North East today with Dylan. We made the decision to leave Jude back at home with grandma and grandad. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow and whilst it would have been amazing having him watch me, it would be hard work for Adam. Dylan is a good age (4) to appreciate what will be going on, Jude at 19 months would not! I’m not worried about him, he’ll be being spoiled rotten.

The B&B is so peaceful. I only booked it about 4 months ago, which is too late to take advantage of any budget accommodation in Newcastle city centre. So instead of paying a small fortune for a Travelodge room 5 miles away, we decided on going a bit further afield. Being surrounded by field upon field of sheep is very relaxing indeed. Dylan was super excited when we arrived. He loves a holiday and hasn’t managed to hide his disappointment that it’s only for one night.

img_1320 img_1321

How am I feeling about tomorrow? Mmmmm surprisingly calm given that I haven’t really had the preparation I was hoping for. I was going great guns with my training until mid-June after my 2 x 10k races, then I went off the boil a bit. A month later I got back on it and was doing reasonably well getting the miles under my belt, culminating in my longest 11 mile run 3 weeks ago. Then it’s gone a bit pear shaped since. Work has been crazy busy (anyone who works with me or in Further Education knows that is a bit of an understatement!). I’ve barely managed anything in the last 2 weeks at all and have felt pretty run down with work over the last few days. I have managed a couple of good nights sleep though so hopefully that will help.

Don’t expect any amazing times from me. I’ll honestly just be happy to make it round and enjoy the experience. At one stage I was really hoping to beat my best time and was aiming for 2 hr 15 mins but I can’t see that happening now. By getting round in one piece I’ll hopefully make everyone who has sponsored me proud. Most importantly I want Ewan to be proud of his mum. I can’t believe that the total raised so far for SANDS now stands at £2138! A huge thank you to EVERYONE who has sponsored me. There is still chance if you haven’t done so already – visit www.justgiving.com/running4ewan.

So if you find yourself at a loose end tomorrow, get BBC 1 on from about 10am. Maybe the tens of thousands of runners, raising money for amazing causes will inspire you to take part next year!

Those moments

Does anyone else ever get those moments? The ones where you just stop, take in your surroundings and realise just how incredibly fortunate you are? I’ve had a few recently. It probably helped that we went on holiday a couple of weeks ago and I’ve taken some leave this week too. The stresses and strains of daily life have on the back burner. I have stepped off the work treadmill for a short while and actually feel relaxed (well as much as is possible with a 4 year and 18 month old in tow).

So one moment in particular was on a steam train heading up the side of a mountain in Wales. Sitting with my husband and two boys, I looked at them and in that moment appreciated how lucky I really was. I wished I could travel back in time 5 years and show the newly bereaved, but also newly pregnant me what life would be like. I couldn’t have dreamed I would be so blessed.

IMG_1476 IMG_1505 IMG_1498 IMG_1502

The times when we were on holiday when I had ‘those moments’ were in situations where we were either doing something different and special (boys + steam trains = absolute joy or boys + castles = bliss). Or we were just enjoying our company as a foursome (Jude insisting on spending most of a meal out high-fiving the three of us in between grabbing mouthfuls of food). Being on holiday allowed me to just concentrate on being with the family. Forget about the ironing and what was on the never ending to-do list at work. The most important decisions are centred on which beach to visit or whether to buy an ice-cream mid-morning or mid-afternoon!

I know in an ideal world we would spend more time appreciating the good things in life and counting our blessings. I forever see posts on Facebook about cherishing the little moments, making every moment count and that each day is a gift. I’m not against these at all, I understand the point that is being made. It’s just that reality does get in the way and sometimes it can be hard to cherish a toddler tantrum, a fussy eater or whingey moods.

I like to think that I am an appreciative person. That I am, in general, an optimist and a glass half full character. I do wonder sometimes if my loss has made me more thankful when it comes to parenthood. Do I hug them just that little bit tighter on occasion? That’s something I will never know.

Whilst having ‘those moments’ does make me think of Ewan, that’s a good thing. It’s important he remains an active part of me. It also makes me look at my rainbows, my rays of joy after the storm, and be truly thankful for every day, the bad as well as the good. They helped me to heal, smile and laugh and enjoy life again.

I’m off now to buy my lottery ticket for this week. I want to be on holiday all the time!

 

A Home Run

IMG_0956

After a week of gorgeous half term weather, I found myself dreaming of rain last Sunday morning. Unfortunately it turned out that my prayers weren’t to be answered and I woke up to a glorious blue sky. Hmmm, not really the best conditions for running 10,000 metres.
FullSizeRenderSo here we were, round 2 of my 2016 running challenge. A 10k race in my hometown of Burnley. Despite the heat, I was really looking forward to the run. We all piled into the car at about 8.30am – Adam, the boys and me. The start and finish of the run was in one of Dylan’s favourite parks so he was happy to come along and watch. He even joined in with my pre-race breakfast of porridge and honey.
IMG_0947
It was a very different affair compared with 2 weeks ago in Manchester. Instead of 35,000 people taking part, there were about 1500 in Burnley. Waiting to start I chatted to ex-work colleagues and saw old friends. It had a real community feel to it. A lot of people turned up to the start to see us all off, but it wasn’t too busy that Adam and the boys could stand by one of the barriers and wave as I went past. It was a great boost to see their smiling faces (although Jude was apparently very upset to see me fly past without stopping!)

IMG_0946

And so we were off. And typical of the Burnley landscape we were almost straight into a hill. In contrast to the Manchester 10k which was relatively flat, this course was one of many hills. On the flipside though, whenever you run up, you have to run down! At least our first hill was under the shade of the Towneley Park woods.

I looked back at my description of the Manchester 10k. I used the words busy and hot a lot. Thankfully Burnley wasn’t too busy and I was able to run without the fear of tripping over someone’s ankles. But hot it definitely was! Sunny to be more precise. To be honest, weather and terrain-wise, Manchester was much much easier. But guess what, I managed to beat by Manchester time by 16 seconds. And broke the magic hour mark, woo hoo!!

IMG_0948Although the run was harder, it was easily a prettier run to experience. Knowing the area helped as I knew what to expect at almost every turn. The last stretch was (again) on a hill which was a really tough finish. But with about 200 metres to go, I saw my own personal cheerleaders waving to give me that last surge of energy. As I ran past, Dylan handed me a bunch of dandelions. I don’t know who had the bigger smile at that point, him or me! It gave me the push to attempt a sprint finish – meaning that I crossed the line at 59 mins 50 seconds. Even though it only took a couple of minutes for my time to come through as a text message, I knew from looking at my watch that I had more or less beaten my personal target. I almost cried with relief!

Cue to pick up my finishers t-shirt and goody bag. I saw a one of my work colleagues who had run 2 weeks before and also got a better time.  There was clearly something in the Lancashire air pushing us along.

I got big hugs all round when I met up with Adam and the boys a few minutes later. I tried (unsuccessfully) to get a good finishers photo with Dylan and Jude but they had other ideas. Bless them, they were ready to go home!

IMG_0952
Reflecting afterwards on the run, it was really hard. But all the effort was worth it to have Dylan and Jude watch me finish, and then to get a PB in the bag. They don’t know why I am running yet but they will someday soon. The medal will be tucked away in Ewan’s memory box which is where I’ve decided I will put all my running memorabilia. It feels like the right place, where he can look after it.

Now, onwards and upwards to the half marathon. I’ve proved I can go half the distance this year, so it’s time to step up the training. Wish me luck!

If you would like to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page. All amounts are gratefully received, however big or small.
www.justgiving.com/running4ewan

IMG_0950