An Unexpected Gift

Take a look at the picture and tell me what you see. Believe it or not, it took me a few moments to realise when I first saw it (which seems ridiculous now). If you’ve worked it out, then well done. It’s a necklace of an Angel and Two Rainbows.

I’m changing jobs at work within the next couple of weeks and as a result will no longer be managing any of the staff that I currently do. Last week, one of my colleagues bought me this gift. Sometimes receiving an unexpected present can often be really touching. I mean it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas or anything like that, and I although I’m changing roles, it’s not like I am leaving altogether. To say she is generous is an understatement.

However receiving a gift such as this went beyond touching. I was speechless. It ranks pretty highly in the list of the most thoughtful presents ever given to me! The fact that it was handmade, even more so.

The card inside the box reads: 

Remember Me You Sweet Pea

In life I love you dearly. In death I love you still.

In my heart you hold a place no one can ever fill.

It broke my heart to lose you, but you didn’t go alone.

For a part of me went with you the day God took you home.

 

To say I read this in a public place, I was impressed at my ability to keep it together and not crumble. What beautiful words to accompany such a beautiful gift.

I’ve had a look at the website. The jeweller, Belle’s Creative Crafts, is based in Wisconsin, USA. There are so many pretty necklaces, keychains and bracelets with the theme of celebration and remembrance. You don’t have to have experienced loss to find something, but I guarantee if you are an angel parent, or grandparent, it will be difficult for you to resist.

Sarah, you are an absolute gem! Provided one of my heavy handed rainbows doesn’t rip it from around my neck, I will treasure my necklace forever.

#15babiesaday Campaign

If you asked me any time before January 2011, how many babies were stillborn everyday, I imagine I would have said 3 or 4. To be honest I just wouldn’t have had a clue, but not knowing anyone or really hearing anything about stillbirth, I know the answer would have been low. At the time we lost Ewan, 17 babies a day did not survive in the UK. More specifically this means babies born from 24 weeks gestation onwards who were either stillborn, or died within 4 weeks of birth. SANDS had a campaign at the time called Why 17? Why on earth, in such a prosperous country, were 17 babies dying each day?

On the positive side, this rate has started to go in the right direction, however in mine (and a lot of other people’s opinion), it hasn’t reduced enough. In 2015, the UK was rated 24th out of 49 high income countries. Poland, Croatia and the Czech Republic all had lower rates of stillbirth than in the UK. I’m not an expert but shouldn’t we be leading the way rather than lagging behind Portugal, Slovakia and Estonia?

Today, June 15th, Sands have launched a new campaign based on the fact that STILL 15 babies die every day. Now to all you lovely blog readers, that statistic isn’t new. Since the beginning of the year, it is something I have mentioned almost every time I’ve written. I’m over a third of the way through my 15 races for 15 babies challenge. A typical topic of conversation now is ‘how many runs have you got to go’. Most people think I’ve done more than I actually have (is that a sign people are getting bored? I hope not!).

The charity has a number of different social media initiatives for the campaign including the obligatory selfie shot! Click here if you are interested in any 15 themed fundraising. Of course I am pretty chuffed with myself to already be on the bandwagon with my 15 themed challenge …. hmmm I wonder if they saw it and realised what a cracking idea it was! One particularly effective initiative has been a tweet they have sent every 96 minutes, highlighting that approximately every hour and a half a baby dies.

          

I hope that in 2 or 3 years time we there will be campaigns of ‘Why 13’ or ‘Why 11’ or ‘Why 9’. And then a few years later we will be celebrating having the number 1 rating, with acceptably low to non-existent numbers. Just how amazing would that be.

Although I say time and time again how blessed we are with our beautiful, amazing rainbows, there will always be a small part of us with Ewan. When I see Dylan and Jude playing together, laughing and wrestling (!) with innocent, wide eyed smiles, occasionally I wonder what Ewan’s smile would have looked like and how his laugh would have sounded.

And although I went onto give birth without complications and have two healthy boys, nothing will ever take away the pain that I felt, that even now when writing about I can still feel in my stomach and chest, when I was told Ewan’s heart had stopped. When he was born into silence. When we went home alone.

All the joy and happiness we have experienced as a family over the last 5 years, and hopefully will do in the many years to come will never erase our memories of Ewan.

If by sharing this post, a selfie or a Sands tweet or by making a donation or getting involved in any other kind of fundraising, we can continue to reduce the number of stillbirths, then Ewan’s life will have truly had a purpose.

http://www.justgiving.com/15races15babies

#15babiesaday

#1ofthe15

#15races15babies

#TeamSands

More than just a run

When is a run more than just a run? When thousands of runners fall silent at the start, tears rolling down faces. When the voice of an enthusiastic spectator breaks with emotion as she shouts ‘Come on runners, we need you in our city’. When the race announcer pays tribute to the emergency services at the event, some of whom were working just 6 days ago when a terrorist attack hit the city. When runners wear placards with bee symbols, the number 22, I love MCR and one which simply said ‘F*** You Terrorists’.

When I set out on my challenge this year of 15 races, I was thinking mainly of myself and my situation. I wanted to celebrate my son who sadly never lived, and raise awareness of the 15 babies who are stillborn or die within the first four weeks of life every day. Although I am only 6 races in, so far it has been a pretty amazing journey, one which I can’t wait to look back on in full at the end. Each race has been memorable in its own way; mega hills, beaches, rain, sunshine, PB’s. But I can’t imagine they will touch the emotion of today’s race.

In truth, a few months ago I wished I hadn’t booked this race. I had heard of the Rock n Roll run series in Liverpool and thought it sounded tonnes of fun. But when I went to book, I realised it was on the same day as the Great Manchester Run which I inadvertently got a place for about 7-8 months ago. I looked at the route and didn’t think it looked very exciting or as appealing as running in the City of Music. Still I diligently trained and decided to make the most of it, with all my 10k races so far helping with my preparation.

One of the many signs put up by local businesses

And then Monday happened. The unspeakable, barbaric atrocity of a concert venue being bombed as thousands of happy, young people left. A night that will change the lives of those people forever, as well as their friends, families and the wider population. Within a day or so, I received an email from the organisers saying that there would be a decision made as to whether  or not the race would go ahead. Then on Thursday it was confirmed. Honestly, I never once contemplated not running. For many reasons really. Beginning with the most selfish (my training for this half marathon has been better than any of the other four I have run!!), to realistic (Manchester would probably be one of the safest cities in the UK with all the security, checks and police), to defiant (why the hell should we let a small group of crackpots, intent on causing fear, panic and disruption, win???).

I can tell you that they did not win yesterday.

I don’t know how many people chose not to run or come and watch. But I can tell you that thousands did. And we all stood shoulder to shoulder at the start, in silence, paying tribute to the 22 people who lost their lives, the countless injured and the many traumatised. We remembered all the brave and selfless people who saved lives, helped the injured, provided food and shelter and drove taxis for free.

And after the silence came the opening bars of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. Never again will I listen to that song without thinking of that moment.

The race will forever have a place in my heart. Not least because, for me, I ran like a dream!! So I’ve only run the distance a handful of times before, but took 11 minutes off my PB … which I set pre-3 babies ago when I had all the time in the world to train (12 years ago to be precise!). I’m still pinching myself now and can’t believe I came home in 2 hrs 11 minutes 41 seconds. To put it mildly I am estatic! Maybe I’ll find time to write about it later, now I am too knackered!

To all the other sheer bloody-minded runners who came out – we were all winners.

#WeStandTogether

#RunForManchester

Did I mention I got a PB???

Non Non: A dramatic tale of a Special Toy!

My children have never taken to dummies. Instead, they have attached themselves to special toys or comforters as they are often referred to. I wrote about Dylan’s comforter, Timmy the turtle some time ago, of their bond and the heart-in-the-mouth moments whenever Timmy went missing. Timmy is thankfully still with us, although now that Dylan is 5, he tends to stop at home thus minimising the chances of him going AWOL.

Non Non in full comfort mode

We are lucky that Jude has not one but two special toys. Teddy and Non Non. Teddy is a Kaloo bear given to him by his auntie when he was born. His cousin Nathan had the same bear when he was little so it was already well known to be a successful companion. We tried to give him a name – Dylan called him Charlie Blue. But Jude has always insisted on simplicity. Teddy. Non Non was originally called Dolly, which again was another name given by Dylan. The current Non Non is the third incarnation of similar comforters. Non Non is the sound Jude makes when he is snuggling it against his face. Again he came up with the name when he just started to point at it and say Non Non.

Non Non after a rescue from Morrisons

Thankfully Jude loves both Teddy and Non Non equally and absolutely. He is utterly devoted to both of them, so much so that he wants to hold one in each hand … all of the time. Sometimes, but not always we can get away with just one toy at bedtime. It is handy in that I can wash one, whilst keeping the other one on the go. Although having two is better than one, it is still a nerve wracking experience when one goes missing. We have visited Customer Services at our local supermarket to report either a lost Teddy or Non Non on more than one occasion. Thankfully (fingers crossed, touch wood), we have managed to keep a hold of both comforters over the past year despite Jude’s best efforts. He has a habit of chucking it on the floor and finding it funny. A couple of months ago he tried to throw Non Non off the top of Clitheroe Castle. Luckily it was such a windy day that it was blown back in his face!

Which brings me to another dramatic castle story. Before embarking on our journey back from Centre Parcs last week, we decided to stop off at Brougham Castle just a few miles down the road. As you can imagine, the boys LOVE castles. Dylan has been a fan for a while and now Jude has been bitten by the bug. It’s a 13th century ruin but with plenty of staircases to run up and down. I’m sure Adam won’t mind me saying that he isn’t the biggest fan of heights. But with children, needs must. So up we followed both boys up and round the winding staircases. I’ve no idea how high it was at the top, at least 4 or 5 floors high. Dylan and Jude loved running around, the adults less so. Needless to say Adam was happy when it was time to go back down.

  

After about 2 minutes of being on terra firma, Dylan announced he wanted to go back up to the top. Adam went up again whilst I stayed down on the ground with Jude. When they both arrived back down, we managed a few more minutes before Dylan wanted to pay another visit to the top. I offered to go this time much to Jude’s dismay. He proceeded to cry constantly whilst we were up in the tower. I remembered that I had Non Non in my bag and shouted down to Adam and suggesting I throw it down. Jude spotted it from a distance and the cries got louder, this time interspersed with shouts of ‘NON NON’. So I let go ………

View looking down … before Non Non’s fall!

I can re-play this next bit in slow motion in my head. Non Non started to float down and then unfurled and opened up, causing him to fly headlong, not into Adam’s hands, but onto a ledge of ruined wall about 10-12 feet above the ground. Adam clapped his hand over his mouth in shock, Jude’s wails increased in volume, Dylan looked at me with his eyes wide in disbelief. Non Non was stuck. We could see him. But couldn’t reach him.

Dylan and I got down the staircase as quickly as we could and surveyed the damage from ground level. There was no way we could get Non Non without help. It was just too high up. Jude was crying more and more so in damage control mode, we had to go and get Teddy. I left Adam trying to work out what the hell to do and ran back to the car with Jude whimpering on my hip. I had to walk through the entrance building. A poor bewildered employee of English Heritage listened to me blabbering on about how Non Non had ‘fallen’ and was stuck on the castle walls, and could he possibly help. Bless him, he went and got a long mop and foldaway chair and set off with a couple of visitors in tow (who had heard my tale of woe with interest) to where Adam was pacing. A pretty comical sight to be honest. I collected Teddy to Jude’s delight and kept him amused with various things in the gift shop, all the time crossing my fingers. Mr English Heritage came back with bad news. No he couldn’t get it down. We walked back to meet Adam and Dylan, strategically a few metres away from the crime scene.

Jude was calm by now and seemed to have forgotten about Non Non’s fate. Adam was still bothered and determined not to be beaten. We went for a distracting walk around the perimeter of the castle walls and Adam suddenly ‘found’ a large tree branch. Back he and Dylan went, whilst I continued to keep Jude amused. As much as I wanted to watch, I knew Jude couldn’t take it. Adam said that another visitor clocked him with the branch and asked if he was off to battle. Absolutely, he replied!

We had a lovely walk and as we came back round I saw Dylan running towards us with a big smile on his face ‘Daddy got Non Non!’.

Drama over. A wonderful reunion ensued. Cheers and rejoicing all round.

I know that one day, we won’t be so lucky. One day, Jude’s ties to Non Non and Teddy will start to relax. But we aren’t ready for that yet. Not that day.

Superdad saved the day (and the weeks/months that followed!). Non Non lives on.

A triumphant Daddy!

 

 

39 Years Young

Blurry birthday selfie!!

It’s official. Only 364 days left of my thirties! But that’s ok because life begins at 40 right?

So yesterday was my birthday. What better way to spend it than being spoiled by my wonderful husband and beautiful rainbows, whilst on holiday with the rest of my family. The day started with the boys climbing onto the bed to help me open my cards and presents. Dylan now fully understands the concepts of birthday and can break into singing birthday greetings without prompting, whereas Jude can just mumble words resembling ‘Happy Birthday Mummy’. Both are just as special and precious. To be honest, if just being cuddled up in bed was all the day had to offer, then I’d be more than happy. We tried and failed at a few selfies whilst daddy was out getting my special birthday breakfast (pastries, croissants, pain au chocolat etc mmm). Believe me, this photo was the best of a bad bunch.

We are at Centre Parcs at the moment. Me and my family unit, my older brother and his family and my mum, dad and other older brother who has flown in from America for the week. The boys are loving having their family within short trotting distance and love walking from one lodge to the next. Jude wants to be able to do all the things his older brother and cousins are doing. This includes ditching the afternoon nap because he doesn’t want to miss out on anything (not something I personally am relishing!). Dylan in particular loves playing with his cousin Emma. There is 14 months between them and being very similar personalities they get on so well together.

 

My birthday was a pretty chilled day, as most are at Centre Parcs. Activities interspersed with walking, playing, swimming and eating, all at a gentle pace. Dylan went pottery painting with his dad, grandma, auntie and cousin Emma. I took Jude on a mini high ropes adventure course.

 

One of the impromptu high points of the day had to be Jude’s hairdryer antics after we finished swimming. Move over Jedward, Judeward is here!

Once the boys were more or less asleep (they are sharing a room for the first time so you can imagine there is a fair bit of giddiness!), instead of putting on my gladrags and going out or kicking off my shoes and relaxing with a glass of wine, I pulled on my trainers and went for a run. Boy how times have changed!! I got some new running gear off Adam for my birthday and like a child wanting to play with a new toy, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Light when I went out, dark when I returned!

 

I set out wanting to do my longest run of the year so far. Although I’ve run four 10k races, my longest race of the year in May is a half marathon, so my mileage needs to increase. I set out wanting to run at least 7 ½ miles but returned having managed 8.  I ran round and round the grounds, meeting countless birds, rabbits and even startling a deer.

 

I returned triumphant and treated myself to a small glass of wine and a hot bath. I then realised that wine wasn’t the best way to hydrate so followed it with a more appropriate glass of water. Call me weird (it’s fine, I understand), but there was definitely something exciting and empowering about running on my birthday. As I was out, I was pondering and thinking about all my past birthdays, or as many as I can remember. If I have the energy when I get home, I’ll dig out some photos to share of my birthday antics over the years.

 Knowing I completed a birthday first last night, something I wouldn’t have contemplated 5, 10 or 20 years ago, is in some ways an achievement. And after the cake and wine has settled, I am still buzzing!

 

 

Mother’s Day Run #4

Continuing with my 15 races for 15 babies, race #4  took place last week on Mother’s Day. Yes that’s right. The day I should be enjoying a lie-in breakfast in bed, I decide to swap for a 6.30am alarm call. The morning after the clocks went forward. Yes I was thoroughly and utterly mad.

My solo Mother’s Day breakfast

 

I had a short jaunt over the border into Yorkshire to Keighley. With a 9am start, having to collect our timing chips from 8am onwards and a 35 min drive, the half 6 start was needed. It was odd being up on my own, at what was really 5.30, having my race staple bowl of porridge in silence.

 

Chatting with Jo and Jayne at the start

 

Thankfully it was an absolutely beautiful morning. After the previous weekend completely soaking us, the sun was really welcome. The 10k I was taking part in, is an annual event and always takes place on Mother’s Day. Last year it snowed! Typical crazy Spring weather. Whilst basking in the sun, waiting for the start, I saw my friend Jo who I hadn’t realised was running. She and her friend had run the course a couple of times so could give me the low down on what to expect. It was nice to have someone to chat with waiting for the start.

I thought it was pretty poignant that I was running for Ewan on Mother’s Day. Last year I wrote how it’s a day that can be really difficult for bereaved mothers. Thankfully I have only had 1 year of being a mother without a child to celebrate with. And that gives me every reason to be doubly thankful ever since. Although they weren’t there to watch me run (far too early to drag them from their beds and our regular Sunday morning viewing of the Lion King), I knew I’d be able to give them a huge hug after I finishing. To lose a child and not be able to do that, is a devastating feeling on any day, but on Mother’s Day in particular.

The race wasn’t the most difficult out of the 4. It also didn’t feel like the easiest, but I ended up getting my best time so far. However, there is a big ‘but’ to come with that statement. My Strave app only recorded 9.8 km. So I’m not really sure if it counts. I definitely didn’t cut any corners so either my phone is a bit dodgy, the GPS messed up or the course measurement wasn’t 100% accurate. No matter, it was a challenging but good run. Described as ‘undulating’, there was a lot of uphill, but also just as much downhill too. Some of the hills were taken by me at a crawling running pace. I was determined not to walk, but at times I was very close. A few well placed local residents with Tupperware full of jelly babies helped to keep me going in the (believe it or not) unexpected heat.

 

The last couple of kilometres were downhill, so by the time I arrived at the finish, I didn’t feel too shot at. All the female runners were given a red carnation which was a lovely touch. A goody bag with some heavenly Eat Natural Dark Chocolate and Cranberry bars (relatively healthy but delicious) helped me ignore the blister pain. But the best prize of all was seeing my beautiful family half an hour later.  No rest for the wicked though. It was off with the trainers and on with the swimming cossie. Weekend family swims don’t get postponed because of a race and it was the opportunity to try out a new pool at Keighley (which we now love).

My obligatory finish photo (complete with carnation)

There’s a 5 week gap between this race and the next, the longest so far. It’s in Lancaster and should be quite a flat one, so maybe the chance of a getting a lot nearer my 5k PB of 59 mins 50. The fundraising for SANDS is going pretty well. A huge HUGE thanks to everyone who has donated so far. I’ve set myself a target of £500 and my Justgiving page is already at £377. If you’ve just been paid and have a few pounds to spare, please head on over.

 

 

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

My progress in the 4 races so far is below. Also the rest of the races to come. If you fancy joining me, or have signed up for any, give me a shout.

#15races15babies #TeamSands #run4ewan

Results so far ….

Race #1 Blackburn – 1 hr 4 mins 3 sec
Race #2 Crosby Beach – 1 hr 6 mins 11 sec
Race #3 Accrington – 1 hr 1 min 57 sec
Race #4 Keighley – 1 hr 43 sec

Races still to run …..

Lancaster 3 Bridges 10k – 30th April

Great Run Manchester Half Marathon – 28th May

Run for All Hull 10k -18th June

Run for All Leeds 10k – 9th July

Run for All York 10k – 6th August

Blackpool Air Show 10k – 13th August

Run for All Bury 10k – 17th September

Lytham Windmill 10k – 12th November

Wilmslow 10k -26th November

Longridge Pudding Run – 10th December

+ 1 Spare run (Great Run in Harrogate was cancelled)

Sand, rain and fig rolls

Two race reports in one. The Crosby Beach 10k (did I say beach?? sure did!) from a fortnight ago, and yesterday’s Accrington 10k. With runs 2 and 3 now ticked off, I am now 20% of the way through my challenge. I am running 15 races in 2017 in memory of my son Ewan, and to highlight that 15 babies every day are stillborn, or die within the first 4 weeks of life. A link to my fundraising page for Sands is at the end if you have any spare spondoolies to sponsor me (smiley face, thumbs up!)

Ok let’s start with Race #2. Adam and I have been to Crosby beach in Liverpool a few times. I’ve written before about how it has special memories for us going back to when we visited a couple of weeks after Ewan died. A link to the run kept popping up on my Facebook feed, so I showed it to Adam. On the QT, Adam runs as well, but in direct contrast to me, doesn’t shout about it to the rest of the world. He clocks up a couple of 10k runs a week and on hearing about the Crosby run, said that he wanted to join me.

So having ditched the boys with their grandparents, we set off to Liverpool early Sunday morning with Bruce Springsteen blasting away in the car. Arriving at Crosby the weather was a bit miserable, grey and drizzly. The view of the beach with the wind turbines out to sea, and seemingly hundreds of statues in the sand, never fails to impress. We had the ‘keep the jacket, ditch the jacket’ debate and eventually went without. It was a good call seeing as the rain stopped as the race started. We were a bit surprised at the size of the field. I’m not even sure there were 100 runners. The worry of coming in last was a real possibility.

Off we went, heading along the field to the promenade. In my head I’d thought that about 4-5k of the run was on sand. WRONG. It was more like 8k. Thankfully the sand was pretty hard and well packed and I managed the first 5k in a reasonable time. I was playing Chariots of Fire and the Rocky ‘Flying High’ theme in my head and actually quite enjoying myself. Then as the second 5k kicked in, my body started to complain somewhat. I don’t think I realised the impact the movement of the sand was having on me. The course was a loop down the beach and back. I saw Adam running back towards me so there were big smiles, words of encouragement (from Adam at least) and a high 5 on the move. It didn’t twig how far ahead he was of me until I reached the end of the beach and had to turn back!!

Somehow I dragged myself to the end of the course. I won’t lie. It was painful. Despite it being almost 100% flat, I couldn’t believe how much harder I found it in comparison to the Blackburn race two weeks ago. Adam was waiting to cheer me on when I reached the finish. Afterwards he asked if I had enjoyed myself, because I hadn’t looked as though I did at the end! Yes, it was hard but I DID enjoy it. It was great having Adam there to share the experience with me. He got an absolutely brilliant time – 52 minutes. Mine was definitely nothing to shout about. I’ve hidden it away at the bottom!

Onto the most recent run yesterday and the completion of Race #3. Not as far to travel this time, Accrington is just 10 miles away. However with a 9.30 start, it still meant an early get up. And since this little cherub transferred from cot to bed a couple of nights before, we are back to disrupted nights and earlier than usual mornings (it’s a good job he’s so cute!). So I didn’t get quite as much sleep as I’d hoped.

The rain from Saturday managed to hold off for most of the morning, but it was still pretty damn cold. It’s funny to think that in about 3-4 months’ time, I’ll probably be complaining of the weather being too warm! I took the obligatory pre-race selfie (sheltering) in the car before collecting my race number and chip. I saw a couple of people I knew beforehand and thankfully the field was a lot bigger than Crosby.

The course wasn’t too bad. A few hills (this is Lancashire after all), but going uphill, means coming downhill as well. This was at the end so I managed to speed up for the last couple of kilometres. Strava told me afterwards that I recorded my fastest ever kilometre, mile and two miles, which I was suitably chuffed with. It started raining in the last 5 minutes or so, which was fine during the race but a bit miserable at the end when my body started to cool down.

My time in the end was the best of the 3 races. I’m edging closer to my PB of last summer. As you can imagine, one of my goals will be to beat it at some point this year. Perhaps on a flatter course…. without sand!

My only real disappointment was the lack of a medal at the end. I obviously overlooked the tick-box when booking, asking if I wanted to order one. Or I probably had my thrifty, penny pinching head on, didn’t want to pay the extra £4 and hadn’t thought about getting all 15 medals lined up together at the end of the year (sad face). Never mind. I’ll wrap the rest up in my new Ron Hill Accrington 10k head band instead!

Sorry, I’d forgotten there was another disappointment. I randomly (and stupidly) decided to give up chocolate until Easter, mainly to see if I have the willpower to do it. So, at the end when what I really wanted to do was stuff my face with a Snickers, I had to settle for fig rolls from the pound shop instead!

I’ve got a bit of a break now until my next race, so don’t worry, I won’t be boring you for a while. In the meantime, click the link below to go to my Justgiving page to spur me on with training (winking, smiling face).

10k results so far…

Race #1 Blackburn – 1 hr 4 mins 3 sec

Race #2 Crosby Beach – 1 hr 6 mins 11 sec

Race #3 Accrington – 1 hr 1 min 57 sec

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Our Baby Rainbow

Cheeeeeeeeese!

On Monday we celebrated another rainbow birthday. This time it was Jude – 2 years old! I know it sounds cliche but where has the time gone? I can’t help calling him my baby, but soon he will start to understand what I mean .. and get seriously cheesed off!

I’ve previously written about my first rainbow pregnancy with Dylan and the (mainly emotional) difficulties we faced. With Jude it felt a lot different. I knew that my body was now capable of carrying a baby full term. I was a lot more confident. I felt like I could be a ‘normal’ expectant mother talking about ‘when’ the baby would come rather than ‘if’ or ‘hopefully’. I had another enviable pregnancy in that I had very little, if any morning sickness. My mum couldn’t believe how lucky I had been in that respect over three pregnancies. But boy was I tired. I didn’t remember being this tired before. Especially in the early weeks I just felt exhausted. I even remember lying down at work one day. I guess the big difference was having a two year old to run around after. Whereas before I could come home from work and just lie on the sofa, relax and maybe have a sneaky snooze, that was just a distant memory. Given we were potty training too in the early weeks, it felt particularly hard. But one thing I couldn’t do was complain.

Again I felt so incredibly lucky. As with Dylan’s pregnancy, we were under the care of the same consultant, the lovely Mrs Martindale. She was fully aware of our history so we didn’t have to explain a thing. By now, we also knew some of the midwives and sonographers. We followed the same plan as with Dylan. Regular appointments and scans every 4 weeks and then to be induced at 38 weeks, if nothing happened before. This was so handy with planning when to finish work as I had a pretty good idea of when the baby would come.


Unfortunately I didn’t learn any lessons from Dylan’s pregnancy. I have very few photos of me pregnant, less than with Dylan. It is one regret that I have. This is one of the only photos I have, taken the night before I went into be induced.

 

 

 

I was due to go into hospital on the 4th February in the afternoon. Jude arrived less than 48 hours later on the morning of the 6th. Although it might seem like a long time, for the most of it I was sat on the antenatal ward waiting for things (my cervix) to get moving!! Knowing that it would probably be a couple of days given my experience with Dylan, I took about 4 novels in with me … and read them all. It was absolute bliss! I was determined to make the most of the peace and quiet (I was in a single room!) whilst I could.

On one of the nights, I received a visit from one of the midwives on the Delivery ward. It was Paula, the midwife who delivered Ewan. She’d seen my name up on the board and recognised it. I know it sounds corny, but Paula is one of those people I will probably only see a few times in my life, yet I have such a strong bond with her that is hard to explain. She was there almost every step of Ewan’s delivery and for the hours afterwards. She shared such an important chapter in our lives that is usually only reserved for close family and friends, not someone you barely know. I will forever be grateful that she was with us and it was so wonderful to see her when I was waiting for our third baby to come.

So how would I describe Jude’s entrance into the world? One word. Quick! That might sound a bit bizarre when it took nearly 2 days from being induced, but when labour actually started, boy did I know about it. I had an epidural with Ewan, but didn’t have anything with Dylan. I didn’t consciously plan a pain-relief free birth but it just happened that way. With Jude I was determined to have as many drugs as I could get. But it wasn’t to be. It felt like I went from 0-60 in 10 seconds. At the point I asked for an epidural, I got the same response again, ‘too late, baby is on its way!’

Thankfully I got another heavenly midwife, Jayne. She came on shift at 8am, took control and sorted me out straight away. She got me on gas and air (which I’d never got the hang of before) and then suggested a water birth. I was completely stunned. I had no idea that I could have one because the baby was to be monitored throughout. ‘Of course’ she said, ‘we’ll get the tub filled up’. Talk about distracting me and diverting my attention.

It’s funny how the different senses invoke particular memories. It was a beautiful sunny morning on Monday. As I got out of the car with Jude, the sun hit my face and warmed me instantly. I was transported back to the birthing pool. As I settled in the water, the sun was coming up and streaming through the water. The design of the room couldn’t have been any better. I lay there with my eyes closed and on the sun on my face. It had a enormous calming effect.

I won’t bore you with any further details other than to say within 10 minutes of getting into the pool, Jude made his entrance into the world. Our second rainbow was in our arms. Dylan came to see him a couple of hours later. He was a bit bemused and couldn’t really work out what all the fuss was about, especially when Jude cried! He eventually came round a few days later. The photo below is one of the first I took of them together. It’s a bit blurry but you can see Dylan showing him one of his dinosaurs!

 

I don’t ever want to take my rainbows for granted. They are the delights that came into our lives and mended our broken hearts. Every day is a blessing, but on special days, like birthdays, I count them even more.

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1 down, 14 to go!

15 races for 15 babies, first race – tick! Woo hoo I’m off the starting blocks and have one 10k under my belt. Today I completed the Blackburn 10k Winter Warmer, with less than ideal preparation. I’ve spent the past 2 ½ weeks in a cold/cough/flu like state. I was struck down mid-January and had to put running on hold for two weeks. Thankfully I managed to get out this week and although I was still sneezing and spluttering in training, I didn’t feel quite like death any more.

However I was starting to get a bit nervous when I read the finer details of this first race. An email we received a week before described it as ‘a challenging course and the section out of the park and up Buncer Lane is almost entirely up hill!’ – they felt the need to add an exclamation mark. Oh. Dear. A local newspaper article wrote ‘and it takes in a gruelling climb up Buncer Lane’. Oh. Crap. Even though I run up and down hills a lot where I live, the adjectives being used were starting to worry me. Buncer Lane was worrying me!

I decided that all I needed to do was just get round and complete the course, and try my best not to be last. I have mainly only run in races with large fields. As in tens of thousands of runners. The maximum taking part in today’s event was 600. It’s not so easy to hide in a field of that size.

Still, I was determined to get my racing year off the mark. Up early with the boys, I fuelled up on porridge and fruit and was out the door at 9.30am. Adam and I have decided that for the winter races, we won’t drag the boys out to watch. There’s nothing worse for them being stood in the cold waiting over an hour to see their mum!! I arrived relatively with plenty of time to collect my race number and chip and warm up. I tried to ignore the hundreds of uber-fit club runners and shuffled along the start line, keeping towards the back. Then we were off.

The first kilometre and I’m thinking ‘this is ok, it’s not too steep, I can handle this’. Then we hit The Hill. The Buncer Lane I had been reading about. All I can say is Ow! Ow! Ow! The descriptions were spot on. It was indeed a gruelling climb and it felt like it was going on forever. Of course it didn’t and I just about managed to keep running all the way up. I did NOT want to walk. The run flattened out and the we started a steady descent. The race was in an area of Blackburn I haven’t been to before. The views at the top were pretty awesome and helped to soothe the pain of the hill. I knew from the intermittent voice from my Strava app that my split times were way below what I would normally run, but I was past caring. I was just happy to have conquered the climb. Check out the elevation on the picture below!

I made it through the rest of the run, even managing to chat to a couple of runners. I just about coped with another short, steep hill after being reassured by a regular competitor that the end was almost in sight. We came back into the park where the run had started and finished with a lap on the running track. I crossed the line and just about managed to stop myself from collapsing with joy. I really hope that this is the toughest of all the 10k’s I’ve signed up for. I’m not sure I’m built for anything harder. I wasn’t expecting an amazing time, well not in comparison to my PB. I checked my results this evening – 1 hour 4 mins 3 seconds. But time doesn’t matter, competing and completing does.

Thanks to my lovely friends, my Justgiving page jumped up £65 today so it was definitely worth dragging myself out. On my way in the car, I thought about Ewan and the reasons I was running. The thought of him will always keep me going. And the hugs I got from all my boys when I got home.

#15races15babies

#TeamSands

#run4Ewan

#winterwarmer10k

 

 

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A Birthday Sunrise

A friend sent me a message today with this absolutely beautiful sunrise. Shortly afterwards she sent another message saying she had just realised the date and no wonder the sunrise was such a beauty. She then thanked me for always making her grateful for everything she has. Today is Ewan’s birthday. What lovely words to receive at what can be a very emotional time.

It’s that funny time of year again where we celebrate two birthday’s. One rainbow and one angel. Dylan was 5 last Thursday and today it is Ewan’s 6th birthday.

There are so many clear memories from 2011 that I can’t escape from. It starts in particular from the 13th January onwards. From then until next weekend I will catch myself at various times of the day thinking ‘this time 6 years ago….’. On Friday night I caught myself remembering back to being in bed 6 years ago. Night-time was when Ewan would usually be most active, but on that night he wasn’t. The trouble was, I didn’t realise until the following day.

Saturday was the anniversary of the day we found out his heart had stopped beating and that he had died. It was the day I first went to hospital because I was worried I couldn’t feel any movements. In sharp contrast to the events of that day, this year we were busy with Dylan’s birthday party. He was so excited and had been talking about it for weeks. Thankfully it all went smoothly and he had an amazing time. We hired a magician/entertainer and although the jokes and tricks were old hat to us adults, the kids thought he was hilarious. Although the day was filled with fun and frivolity, again I caught myself at 2pm driving back home thinking ‘I was at the hospital now’.

I imagine anyone who has been through a traumatic experience will be the same. I guess this will be the status quo for years to come. Memories like these will never be forgotten.

I do have some fun memories though (bizarrely). Last night I reminded Adam of when we were in the delivery room waiting for the midwife. He was trying to cheer me up and lighten the mood so started doing gymnastics (badly) on a stray yoga mat. It worked.

We always try and do something nice on Ewan’s birthday. Today after visiting the cemetery, Adam and I took a drive out into the countryside, to the hotel where we got married. We had a lovely relaxed lunch by a roaring fire. We have so many wonderful memories there and it was just a perfect time for us to be together.

The boys still don’t know about Ewan yet, so they don’t realise the significance of the date. This morning I was first up and went into Dylan’s room. He had just got up and was sat in the middle of his room. I just sat down beside him and asked for a hug. He climbed into my arms and he let me hug him. For much longer than a 5 year old would normally let his mother hug him! I also got a lovely hug and cuddle off Jude when he woke up. But being a mummy’s boy through and through, that was no surprise. I needed those hugs and thankfully they weren’t in short supply.

Which brings me back to my friend’s lovely message about being grateful for what we have. We will never ever forget our angel, our firstborn. We will never fully heal from the pain. But do we feel grateful? Absolutely. Every single day. I had the joy and pleasure of carrying Ewan for 7 months. He was loved and wanted. His two brothers are absolute blessings. That we were able to go on and have a family is a luxury that some people do not. We look at them every day and appreciate how lucky we are.

I think I say this every year now, but it is still important to remember. Hug your loved ones. Hold them close. Tell them you love them. Life is precious.

After 25 attempts at getting a family photo of us all looking in the same direction, this was the best we could get!

* Photo credit to the wonderful Dr Ruth Jeanes. Unfortunately for anyone wondering where this beautiful scene can be found in the UK, it is not! It was taken in Australia.

If you haven’t read my last blog, please take a look. I am hoping to raise £500 this year for Sands (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) by running 15 races. My Justgiving page is below. #15races15babies

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