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Baby Loss Awareness Week

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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.

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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

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Enchanting Stars

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I discovered after starting my own blog, that there are thousands of blogs out in cyber space. Probably tens to hundreds of thousands. Far too many to read and keep up with. There are however, a small number of blogs that I do subscribe to. These are the ones that, in particular, I love to read. Either the content or style of writing, or both.

There is one I really want to share with you – ‘Same Person, Different Me’. You may already be aware of the author/blogger, Joanne Thompson. She is the co-founder (along with her husband Dan) of the charity Millie’s Trust. Joanne and Dan set up the charity after the tragic death of their baby daughter Millie in a choking incident in 2012. The charity offers first aid training at extremely low costs (and in some cases free) as they believe everyone should have access to gaining life-saving skills, regardless of circumstances. In addition they are petitioning for all staff in nurseries to be Paediatric First Aid trained.

Our children are similar ages. Dylan and Millie were both born in January 2012. Jude and their second baby, Leo were both born in February 2015. I wonder if that is one of the many reasons why I am drawn to reading Joanne’s blog. We have also both experienced losing a child, although admittedly in very different circumstances.

It is clear that the family went through an incredibly heart-breaking and devastating experience. And still are. And whilst some people would be completely broken (not to say that they weren’t), they channelled their energies to create something positive and worthwhile. A lasting memory of their baby girl, Millie’s charity. They are the epitome of an inspirational couple.

Same Person, Different Me is a very emotional blog. Joanne writes very candidly about her memories of Millie, how she deals with different anniversaries and the mental health illnesses she was diagnosed with after Millie’s death. She also writes about Millie’s brother, their Rainbow Leo and the absolute joy he gives them. She writes about how she got through her pregnancy and how she is currently dealing with the issue of weaning. Most parents out there would see weaning as an exciting time. But understandably given the way Millie died, it has been much more difficult for Joanne. I feel as though she is so incredibly brave to share her thoughts and feelings. If you are going to read any other blog, then please head on over to take a look.

Finally (and this is what has prompted me to share my love for the blog), Joanne and Dan have entered a competition by Thomson to name a plane! They could very easily have chosen a name representing Millie or Leo. But instead they have entered ‘Enchanting Stars’ to represent all our lost loved ones, flying high through the clouds. This is her full post with its beautiful explanation. So click on the link below to vote for Enchanting Stars. If you don’t have a lost loved one, then use your vote for our angel Ewan.

http://www.nameourplane.com/name/enchanting-stars

Our Super Scottish Holiday!!

And so begins my first ever holiday blog. I’m really looking forward to writing about our Scottish holiday, because hopefully in years to come I’ll be able to look back and fondly read through, recalling a lot of the detail that I will probably have forgotten.

It will be hard to cram it all into one post. Especially seeing as we have done so many wonderful things. My plan is to write a few more specific posts about some of the things we got up to (if I have the time!). We were only away for a week yet we managed to pack so much in, despite being pretty sleep deprived for a lot of the time. Poor Jude was been teething most of the week, which he shared with us most mornings around 3, 4, 5 and 6 am! Bless him, I can tell he was in such pain. It also means he was a bit crammed during the day, so it wasn’t always easy keeping him happy (lots of walking up and down in the Baby Bjorn helped though). Still, Dylan had a brilliant time. He has really grasped the concept of what a holiday is now and it is great to witness everything through his eyes.

We chose Scotland because it was almost 18 months since our last visit and 3 years since our last proper holiday. As I’ve written before, Adam and I love visiting Scotland. Whilst we want the boys to see the world which we have been lucky enough to experience, we also want them to appreciate the beauty of the British Isles.

Saturday

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The view from the cottage

Although it was only a 3 hour journey to Dumfries and Galloway, we built in a lunchtime stop at Tebay services to make sure the boys weren’t too fed up strapped in their car seats. I absolutely love this place. It’s so family friendly and is the most picturesque motorway services I’m aware of. Whilst Dylan was still asleep in the car, we managed to quickly set up his room and Adam laid out all the toys we had brought so he would be excited and hopefully take to the room without a problem. It worked, and he was more than happy to be on the first floor on his own. Even more exciting was seeing the sea from his bedroom window.

IMG_7137Carsethorn itself was a pretty small place. A few houses, a B & B and a pub. The beach is stone and shingle so Dylan was more than happy throwing stones into the sea. The bigger the better. We wandered down the beach to the pub and stumbled across a shark rock. This was heaven for a boy currently in the midst of an Octonauts obsession. There was also a wooden boat to fulfil his pirate appetite!

 

Dylan was pretty mortified when it was time for bed, but perked up when we told him he could come and visit the shark and boat the next day.

Sunday

Our plan for the day revolved round a visit to Dino Park, east of Dumfries. Our eyes lit up the day before when we drove past the sign. Given that most of the books and toys Dylan had brought with him were dinosaur related, it was a fitting location. And it didn’t disappoint. The park was full of various dinosaurs, with information plaques (and helpful phonetic aids to get the pronunciations right!). We had been warned that the noises would be triggered as we moved closer. At first Dylan was stunned and (although he wouldn’t like to admit it) a bit scared. He soon worked out that they weren’t real and was happy to run from one to the next. A dinosaur themed bouncy castle and an adventure play park were the icing on the cake.

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Monday

We drove out past Kircudbright to the Cream O’ Galloway activity centre. This was an absolutely amazing place and I can’t wait to write more about it. Being school term-time, we almost had the run of the place to ourselves. We packed in a walk with some cows and a picnic (always a winner with Dylan) before throwing ourselves onto Go Boing – a network of suspended aerial trampoline-like nets. It wouldn’t have been safe to take Jude on, so Adam and I had to take it in turns to jump around like fools with Dylan. We had so much fun and it was difficult to tear him away to explore the 3D maze and huge viewing tower. Given that the Cream O Galloway is an ice-cream company, obviously we had to sample the goods. Thumbs up from Dylan!

We treated ourselves to a meal in the pub in Carsethorn, the Steamboat Inn when we got back. As well as serving beautiful seafood, it was always desked out with various nick nacks including a huge shark mounting on the wall – guess who wanted to go and see it time after time?!? It was so nice to be able to have a sneaky glass of wine without having to worry about driving back anywhere. I was pretty chuffed with this photograph.

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Tuesday

Walking up to see blue skies and sun, it would have been rude not to head to the beach. Dylan had been asking ever since we arrived if we could make sandcastles. So armed with buckets and spades, another picnic (and various other paraphernalia!) we hit Rockcliffe beach.

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This is a great place for kids to explore – rocks to climb, searching the rockpools for sea creatures and of course, plenty of sand. The tide was well out, but we weren’t really planning on swimming! Jude was particularly crammed so we took it in turns to explore with Dylan. When it was my turn, we started making sandcastles, until Dylan decided it was much more fun to watch me make them and then for him to kick them over! Errr no Dylan!

Wednesday

Our first and only rainy day. But no matter. I had a particular place in mind to visit; the Cocoa Bean Company near Kircudbright. Another brilliant place to visit, this was a perfect place to spend a few rainy hours.

Jude experiencing soft play

Jude experiencing soft play

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Chocolatier in training

There was a café and soft play but the main feature for us was the chocolate making workshop. Again I want to write a lot more about this as it was such a great activity and Dylan cites this as being the highlight of the holiday. Great praise indeed.

 

 

The rain also cleared for us to spend some time in the outdoor play area. What 3 year old wouldn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon on a pirate ship? We had to dig deep with our persuasive skills when it was time to leave.

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Thursday

P1100397It was a bit cooler and windier, but we still managed to spend some time at the beach again. We went out for lunch first to a nice wee village called Kippford. Jude fell asleep in the car during the 5 minute journey to Rockcliffe (typical) so Adam stayed in the car with him. We figured Jude needed to catch up on his sleep. So Dylan and I braved the wind and were determined to have fun. I initiated a game of football in order to warm up!

I took this photo below on Rockcliffe Beach.

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I’ve decided to try and write the names of my angel and two rainbows on every beach (or holiday) we go on. The first time I did it was in Whitby when we went for a break in April. I guess I want Ewan to know we are thinking about him. Dylan gave me a hand this time. He doesn’t know the significance yet. One day he will.

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Friday

On our last full day, we went on a bit of a journey. We drove nearly two hours up to Glasgow to meet up with my sister-in-law. She lives with my brother in the States so we only get to see her once or twice a year if we are very lucky. She was over in Scotland visiting her mum and it happened to coincide with our holiday, so we could resist the temptation to see her. Even just for a few hours.

The Kelvingrove in Glasgow
The Kelvingrove in Glasgow

 

She suggested the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, thinking it would have a few things to keep Dylan amused. She wasn’t wrong.

We had visited the Natural History Museum in London a few weeks earlier, which he loved, and there were some similarities. The Kelvingrove is a beautiful building (like in London) and given the huge variety of exhibits, it’s no surprise that it is the most visited museum in the UK outside of London. Oh and it’s free too!

Dylan particularly loved the natural history; animals, sharks and (of course) dinosaurs. I was intrigued by these floating heads. Maybe we didn’t take as much notice of all the exhibitions as we should have (too much nattering and catching up), but there is nothing to stop us going again!

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Back home after the two-hour drive, we treated ourselves again to a meal at the Steamboat Inn. Another glass of wine and possibly the best fish pie ever! To round off the holiday, we watched Braveheart back at the cottage.

 

Not including our weekend in Whitby, it was our first proper holiday as a foursome. Despite Jude’s disrupted nights and general poorliness, we still had a brilliant time. Just being together as a family without having to think about all the run-of-the-mill, day-to-day jobs, housework etc, is heavenly. We picked a wonderful spot to stay and this particular corner of Scotland has so much to offer for little ones. I can’t wait for our next break away.

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Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Writing a blog has really challenged my technical IT skills. 21 years ago I achieved a grade A in GCSE Information Technology (wow that makes me feel really old!). It could have been 100 years ago given the pace at which technology moves.  I have learnt so much in the last month in putting my blog together and I’ve been so proud of my persistency in trying to make it all work and look reasonably good.

Anyway the purpose of this post is very simple. I need to register myself on a site called Bloglovin’ where thousands upon thousands of blogs are hosted. To do that I need to post a blog with the above link displayed. You won’t believe that I had to reach out to a Bloggers group on Facebook to help me with it.

So that’s it!

Adios

My First Parkrun

My first Fit & Active post. On Saturday, I was up bright and early (nothing unusual there), I donned my running gear and drove to Burnley’s Towneley Park to take part in the phenomenon that is ‘parkrun’. It’s now nearly 6 months since Jude was born and I am slowly but surely trying to get back into shape. Let’s get this straight. I’m not an elite athlete, but I’m not a novice runner either. Confession: I ran a marathon once, so I do have some running experience. However over the last few years I haven’t been in the habit of running regularly. So I’ve decided to do something about it.

If you haven’t heard about parkrun before, let me enlighten you (if you have, skip to the next paragraph!). Starting in 2004, parkrun was set up as a weekly 5k timed race for local runners in Bushy Park, London run by volunteers. Over the next few years it expanded to different locations in the UK with everyone meeting at the same time, 9am on a Saturday morning. Eleven years on, parkrun now takes place in a 10 other countries including South Africa, Russia and the USA and is still run by volunteers.

Anyone can sign up and register. It takes a few minutes on the parkrun.org website and then you are emailed your personal ID along with a barcode. In order to take part you just have to turn up with your printed barcode. Thanks to my crafty mother, mine is even laminated! Once registered, you can take part in any parkrun … in the world!

There are hundreds of events in the UK alone, and in my locality (the North West) there are over 30 to choose from. Although my local event is Pendle, I chose the Burnley parkrun which is just a few miles further away because a) it attracts more runners (so it’s easier to get lost in the crowd), b) I know the park really well having walked, run and played there both as a child and parent and c) it is a slightly easier route.

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Towneley Hall

Towneley Park is a beautiful location. Locals refer to it as the jewel in Burnley’s crown. On a sunny and ever so slightly chilly Saturday morning, it didn’t disappoint. I parked up and as my husband recommended, just followed the crowd of runners. I had that nervous feeling in my tummy walking up the ‘avenue’ to Towneley Hall. Initially it seems as though everyone looks like an A grade, Olympic standard athlete. Whilst there were some very lean and fit people there, on looking around a bit I saw a few more runners like myself – slightly shabby running gear (you know the cheap stuff from Sports Direct) and maybe carrying a bit of extra weight around the middle!

There were a couple of announcements before the race got underway. Because the course route has recently changed, one person gave a quick explanation to us newbies and anyone who hadn’t run it before. The person in charge (or the one with the megaphone at least!) then announced the pace runners. These were 6 volunteer runners with bright yellow tabards and numbers on the back, representing the time they were going to complete the course in – 20, 22, 24, 26, 28 and 30 minutes. I completely ignored everyone except the 30 minute pace runner – there was no way I was getting anywhere near the others.

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At the start. My slightly nervous smile!

Before I knew it, the sound went to signal the start of the race. And we were off! I kept to the back and just settled down to follow everyone. I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination. I can sprint, but only for about 20 metres maximum. I would call myself a plodder. I am the person you might drive past on the road and feel a bit sorry for, thinking I have been running for an hour (when in fact it has been 10 minutes). Anyway I decided not to go hell for leather and instead settled into my ploddy pace.

The race is about 2 ½ loops of the same route. This means that approximately 7 minutes in, the slower runners (like me) start to see the much faster runners on their way back towards us, already having doubled the distance we have run. It could be slightly demoralising. However I pretended they were just super-humans and ‘normal’ me put my head down and plodded on.

I won’t bore you with every inch of the race. Suffice it to say that I finished. Not in the most spectacular time, but I finished all the same. And I was happy. Happy to get off the mark and get my first parkrun under my belt. I received my timing chip and handed my barcode (in all its laminated glory) to be scanned. I knew it wouldn’t be till later on that day that I would find out my time and position in the race.

As I was walking to the car park, I bumped into my old primary school teacher. He was always one of my favourite teachers and actually encouraged me to run at the age of 8. I reminded him that he would take a group of us cross country running in the dead of winter in the pouring rain. We gave up our lunchtimes willingly and voluntarily! I felt slightly embarrassed when on discussing the race he told me he had completed it in around 24 minutes. The guy is almost twice my age! I knew that I was a good 7 or 8 minutes behind that.

A couple of hours later I received a text message. My time was 31 minutes and 32 seconds. Not bad I guess for a first effort. My aim was around 30 minutes, so I wasn’t too far behind. I now I can focus on beating that in races to come. As well as the text, there is a webpage with all the day’s statistics. You can see how many took part (254), your position (176th), the winner (not me) and their time (17 minutes 12 seconds!!!!). I could also see that there were 100 women who took part and I was 52nd (hmm not bad). You can also see every other runner’s statistics if you are bored and want to look at that level of detail (I did …. Just for a nosey and research purposes obviously!).

So that was it, my first parkrun complete. I am hoping, childcare permitting, to do many more. Actually, if I had one of those fancy off-road buggies, I could take Baby Rainbow Jude with me, but I don’t. Children are welcome too. I know someone who takes her 7 year old (and he gets a better time than me), but under 11’s have to be under adult supervision at all times. Maybe I’ll wait until Dylan is a bit older, and in the meantime concentrate on smashing the 30 minute barrier!

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