Tag Archives: charity

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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15 Races for 15 Babies

Taken by the fab Burnley Parkrun photographer David Belshaw

After finishing the Great North Run last September, I knew that I wanted to carry on running. I was blown away when family, friends and colleagues helped me to raise over £2300 for Sands, for running the half marathon and 2 x 10k’s in 2016. When I was unsuccessful (but secretly quite pleased) with the London Marathon ballot, I decided to be a bit more creative. There were plenty of other marathons to go for, but to be honest, I’m still not ready to put in the hours needed for decent training with the 3-4 hour long weekend runs needed.

Inspiration came through reading various posts from a brilliant Facebook group I was invited to join called Run Mummy Run. There are 30,000+ members all of varying running abilities, from 15 minute milers to ultra marathon runners. It’s a huge support network where stories and achievements are celebrated and no question is too stupid. Being part of this virtual running club has kept me going throughout the winter, a time when I have never trained before. Not at night any way. I only managed to pull on my trainers after the boys had gone to bed when it was dark, windy and wet outside because I knew thousands of other mums were doing the same.

So, onto my challenge for this year ….. ready? ….. drumroll …. (it should be no surprise really given the blog title!) … I’m going to take part in 15 races over the course of 2017.

Because I am now such a running geek (as I was politely informed the other day), all my races are on a spreadsheet. I haven’t signed up for them all yet – some still have dates to be confirmed, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that I will win a place in the Vitality Liverpool half marathon. Feel free to join me in one, or come out and cheer if the race is near you (warning – you need to live in the North!). The more the merrier.

Blackburn Winter Warmer 10k – 5th February

Crosby Beach 10k (Liverpool) – 19th February

Accrington Ron Hill 10k – 5th March

Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon – 2nd April

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

Great Yorkshire Run (Harrogate 10k) –  July (date TBC)

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

So why 15? Because every day in the UK, 15 babies are stillborn, or die within the first 4 weeks of life. Every day, the lives of 15 families are changed forever. Hopes are shattered and dreams are broken for 15 mums and dads to be. On Saturday it will be 6 years to the day when we were told that Ewan had died. And although I always say how lucky we are to have 2 amazing boys with us now, the pain I felt on that day and for the weeks, months and years that followed, will be with me until I take my last breath.

Stillbirth is not rare. This was a tragedy which happened to us and could happen to anyone. The UK’s stillbirth rate is still unacceptably high, especially in comparison to other lower income nations.

I want my challenge to be memorable and meaningful. To raise money for research and also raise awareness of stillbirth.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/15races15babies

I’ve even got one of those fancy text codes (I sound ancient writing that don’t I?!)

Text COXR51  followed by an amount of £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 to 70070

Please share my Justgiving page and if you have a spare cash over the year any donations will be gratefully received.

My geeky spreadsheet!

#15races15babies

#TeamSands

#SandsSuperstar

 

 

12 months later….

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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!

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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.

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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!

A Home Run

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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.
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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!)

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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!

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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

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It’s good to talk!

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We don’t talk about Ewan a lot. That sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? Saying that on a blog which is (in essence) about him. But writing is different to talking,

What I mean is, whilst talking about him is not a taboo subject, it’s not something I do every day, or even every week. It’s not because we’ve forgotten about him. It’s just not something that comes up in day-to-day conversation. Current conversations now revolve around how long did Jude sleep for his daytime nap, or where has Captain America’s shield gone? (Answers, usually about an hour and a hour, two if we are lucky, and no idea – it’s been missing for weeks!). You get my drift.

That’s not to say we don’t think about him. We see his hand and footprint every morning and he is always in our thoughts.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit different.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to talk about the SANDS charity at my mum and dad’s church. Every year in May, the congregation gather together one Sunday morning before the service and have breakfast together. At the end there is a collection for charity which changes each year. In 2011, the year Ewan died, they chose SANDS as the recipient and raised £260 in donations.

Five years on, I was incredibly touched to be told that they had again chosen SANDS. But this time I was asked I would go and speak about the work of the charity and about why it was of such importance. I have spoken in public about Ewan, but not for some time. I wanted to use the opportunity to explain how the work SANDS has done over the last 38 years made a real impact on Adam and I when Ewan was born. Instead of him being taken away from us, we were able to spend time with him, take photos and make memories. It sounds so simple, but parents of stillborn babies 20+ years ago were not afforded the same treatment.

The generosity of the congregation raised £311. A huge thank you to Bethesda Street United Reformed Church in Burnley.

Last week I met up with our Communications Officer at work. Each year a group of staff take part in the Great Manchester Run and raise money for charity. Those who run get to put forward the charity and choose.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I suggested SANDS , and was delighted when it was chosen by my co-workers/runners.

I offered to talk about my own experiences with Becky so that she could put together an article. The result is the link below. I think she made a pretty good job of it!

http://www.nelson.ac.uk/adults-news/ncc-team-prepare-charity-run-support-brave-colleague/

Last time I looked, the College Justgiving page stands at £155 – I’m hopeful for a lot more!

I think some people might think that talking about Ewan is something I don’t want to do, for fear of me getting upset. Five years ago, that would have been the case, but now, with the benefit of time and healing, I can talk about him and just be …. normal. I like to talk about him, because he is our son, a part of our family. I like to talk about SANDS because it focusses me to be positive about our experience, because without their tireless campaigning and education, it could have been so much worse. And I don’t get upset because our lives are filled with so much joy. Just look at the two monkeys below and you will see why!

If you ever want to ask me about Ewan, please do. I will be happy to share, because  as Bob Hoskins once said … ‘It’s good to talk’

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The Great North Run 2016 – The Story So Far

gnr-largeLast September, I made rather a bold statement. In print, here on this blog. I said that I was planning to run 13.1 miles to raise money for Sands, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society, a charity that couldn’t be any closer to my heart. I threw down the gauntlet for friends (and strangers) to join and a few brave souls picked it up.

I thought the hardest thing would be getting going with the training. To begin with it was. I was juggling going back to work after maternity leave with all the fun and chaos of Christmas. As the New Year passed, I made an unspoken resolution to get back on it. So far I’ve been pleased with my progress. Saturday mornings have seen me up for 9am to take part in every parkrun of 2016, getting a Personal Best at my usual Burnley run and attempting the much more difficult Pendle run. I’ve managed to also to get our at least once, sometimes twice during the week too.

Wettest Parkrun of the year (so far)

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I’ve honestly felt as though I’ve had something driving me this time around. When I’ve run up one of the (many) steep hills near home, or when I was pushing for my PB, at the time I was starting to doubt my ability, I reminded myself why I was there in the first place. I’m not running to lose weight, or to get fitter (albeit valid reasons and actually ones I should adopt too!), I am running for my angel.

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My new Sands training t-shirt

So then came the bombshell. The results of the ballot were emailed out this week. I didn’t get a place. Okaaaaaaay! That wasn’t part of the plan. I’ve been successful in the ballot before. In fact I think I have got every place all three times. I stupidly didn’t think about the prospect of being unsuccessful.

I got in touch with Sands almost straight away to ask about a charity place. Due to the high profile nature of the event (it is the largest half marathon in the world!), understandably places aren’t given straight away to anyone who asks for one. There are 50,000+ participants. Most of them running for charity. I’ve sent off my application for one of their golden bond places. I’ve no idea how many places they do have, but given they are only a small charity, I am hoping for my own selfish reasons that they aren’t over subscribed.  

I have to wait until next month to find out. It’s going to be a loooong month of nibbling finger nails. I thought it might be hard getting up on Saturday to be motivated to run. But it’s starting to become habit now and hopefully if I do get that place, I won’t have lost momentum.

I don’t want to consider the possibility of not getting that place. Not yet. Mainly because I don’t really want to run for anyone else other than Sands. If there are other charity places available, I can’t see myself going for them. With a heavy heart I’ll have to lead the cheerleading for all my wonderful friends who were lucky enough to get places and will run for Sands. I just really wish I can join them. I can’t describe how gutted I will be if I can’t do this.

Keep everything crossed for me. Legs, arms, fingers and toes.

I will keep you posted.

 

The Star on our Tree

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A lot people have Christmas decorations that are dear to them. Those which have picked up in foreign countries. Some which have been given as gifts. And of course ones which have been made with tender love and care by children or grandchildren.

Our most precious decoration doesn’t fit into any of those categories. Like most bereaved parents, we have a reminder on our tree of the baby, child or children we have lost. Some will get personalised baubles with their son or daughter’s name engraved. We have a simple white star. Not very original I guess. But it represents our memories of Ewan.

When I look at the star I think of many things. Mainly the last 5 Christmases since Ewan has been a part of our lives.

Christmas 2010 – I was about 29 weeks pregnant with Ewan at the time. We lived in our old terraced house and it was the last bitterly cold winter I can remember. Our street was frozen with snow for weeks and a couple of times when I couldn’t drive up the hill, Adam came to escort me on foot. He didn’t want me to take a tumble in my increasingly Weeble-like state. Of course it was a dry Christmas, but on the plus side I used it as an excuse to eat as much as I wanted. I probably signed off all our Christmas cards ‘Rachel, Adam and bump!’ and friends liked to point out how we should enjoy our last relaxing Christmas for the next 20 years! We were full of hope and excitement with what 2011 was going to bring. Our first baby. Three weeks after that Christmas Day, our lives changed inexplicably.

IMG_7998Christmas 2011 – We were in our new house and treated ourselves to a new Christmas tree. This Christmas we were full of hope again, but also some sadness, worry and fear. We didn’t have the baby we thought we were going to have. Instead we had spent the year grieving. But in the very same year, we were lucky to conceive again. By the time Christmas arrived I was about 36 weeks pregnant and had finished work for my maternity leave. Thankfully our pregnancy had progressed well and I knew I was going to be induced in early January, to reduce the risk of another stillbirth. My brother, his wife and our 18 month old nephew stopped with us on Christmas Eve, so we had the joy of seeing him open his presents in the morning. And although this didn’t replace Ewan, it helped a lot. I kept it together for most of the season, but remember watching the comedy film Nativity on my own one night. From seemingly nowhere a huge wave of grief rolled over me as I watched the performance at the end. I couldn’t stop thinking how Ewan wouldn’t get the chance to take part in a nativity, or in any aspect of Christmas.

Christmas 2012/2013/2014 – Now life really had changed for good. As everyone had initially predicted, the days of relaxing Christmases were over. Our Rainbow, Dylan came crashing into the world in January 2012 and from then on in, Christmas was all about him. And although we no longer had the pain of spending Christmas without Ewan, we still remembered him and knew he was watching over us from the top of the tree.

Last year I was heavily pregnant (again) and so it will be Jude’s first Christmas this year. My main concern has been whether he would attack the tree and pull all the decorations off. He is far too inquisitive for his own good. I’ve tried to keep as many baubles off the lower branches as possible. So far it seems to be working.

Ewan’s star is still at the top and to be honest I can’t ever see it being replaced. It is particularly special to us because the star was attached to his funeral wreath. Our lovely florist also sells various decorations and ornaments and she suggested we put it on. It was a wonderful idea and I am so glad she made it. I have to nip into the shop tomorrow, so I might tell her (if she’s not too busy!). I bet she doesn’t have a clue what her thoughtful gesture has allowed us to do.

In Christmases to come, Dylan and Jude will hopefully help me to dress the tree. I don’t know at what point I will explain the meaning of the star. When they will be old enough to understand I guess. But it will help to ensure that Ewan will always be remembered at Christmas, and never forgotten.

 

SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) are running a Christmas appeal and alongside it, the Star on Our Tree campaign. It acknowledges the fact that festive times can be particularly difficult for bereaved parents. They are inviting people to send photographs of their stars and decorations. Last year Ewan’s star featured on their Facebook page. You can also make a small donation of £5 by texting STAR31 £5 to 70070.

 

In in a bid to make sure you aren’t too down after reading this post, here is a photograph of my two beautiful Rainbows in their Christmas jumpers! Not quite looking in the same direction but not a bad effort (by daddy)

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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

Juggling Mummy – Home life, Work and Fundraising

Juggling balls used to keep things in the air

Wow it feels like such a long time since I sat down at the laptop to write. The blog I posted last week about Ewan’s birth was one I had written (in the main) some time ago and I just updated it and made tweaks. Since we returned from our holiday last month it just feels as though life has been super hectic. I am getting to grips with returning to work, adapting to Adam’s new job and shift patterns, keeping up with day to day house jobs and running around after a now mobile baby and his brother. Then on top of all that, last week I organised and held a quiz to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) and a local charity Friends of Serenity. Don’t get me wrong. I love the crazy, mad busyness. And although some days feel hard, I thank my lucky stars that I have two happy and healthy boys to run around after.

Juggling work and being a mum

I’m not even back at work properly yet. Having gone back to work full-time after having Dylan, I was so pleased that I could finally reduce my hours to 4 days a week this time around. Since August I’ve been doing a couple of days a week, mainly because it is our busiest time. From this week I am working 3 days. So I’m having it easy really. I’ve slowly been getting better and better at getting the boys up and ready and dressed and into work on time. Ok I’ve not quite nailed it, but I’ve definitely improved compared to a month ago!

Adam started a new job in July which means he is away for 27 hours at a time, 2-3 times a week. Although it seems a long time to be away, we’ve quickly got used to it. In the long run it’s definitely better as he’ll get to spend more quality time with the boys. And tonight when I came home from work, my tea was ready and on the table. Happy days!

Mobile baby

My mobile baby!

 

Jude loves to explore, and now he is mobile, it’s going to get harder to keep him occupied in the morning (without worrying he isn’t tearing the place apart!). At the moment he is quite happy playing with toys on the bathroom floor whilst I’m in the shower, but I bet that won’t last for long! Adam put the stairgates up today so at least I won’t worry about him toppling down them.

 

I’ve learnt not to put the telly on for Dylan. At first I thought it would help and keep him quiet. But actually all it does is distract him and make him more reluctant to get dressed/have breakfast/brush teeth. So I don’t mention the ‘O’ word (Octonauts) and he seems quite happy to potter around and play with whatever toys are lying about.

Fundraising and quizzing

I feel like one of the things that this blog has done is to reinvigorate my passion for fundraising for Sands. In the two years after Ewan died, we set up a Justgiving Page, organised two quizzes and ran a 10k race raising nearly £8,000. Recently we haven’t done a lot and by writing about stillbirth awareness I am back in ‘that place’ where I want to get involved and help again. At the beginning of the month I went to the Sands AGM and conference, which I am hoping to write about (when I have the time!). Hearing about all the research that is needed to help reduce the stillbirth rate has really spurred me on.

So last Thursday night, which happened to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness day (15th October), 45 of my family and friends gathered together for a night of me on the mic asking questions about anything from Shakespeare quotes to celebrity couples. Typically I was up until about 12 on Wednesday night still writing the questions. Disorganised as usual! The venue for the quiz was at my local college (which also happens to be where I work!). Because we teach Catering, there is a restaurant for the public to dine so that students can practice cooking and front of house skills. The students made huge vats of meat and veggie chilli for us and kept everyone well fed.

RaffleIt was a great night. Although I was hoping for more people (Thursday nights aren’t the best I discovered for other people to get babysitters), we raised almost £600 from the ticket price and raffle. A friend of mine donated a huge chocolate bouquet which definitely led to more raffle tickets being sold. However what really boosted the total was the fact that college only charged me cost price for the food. This added £125 to the total. I was delighted. I think it helped that my friends made good use of the bar!

Wave of Light

I even managed to light my candle at 7pm before the quiz started as part of the international Wave of Light and kept it on all night.

 

Life isn’t going to calm down any time soon. Especially now I’ve got to start fitting in all the training to get ready for the Great North Run. Seeing as I published it here a few weeks ago, there’s no going back! But I can’t complain. It’s all for a great cause. I’m just learning to embrace the chaos and go with the flow!

Mummuddlingthrough

Loss is loss, whenever it happens

Angel

When Ewan, our angel, died, a lot of people shared their own experiences of loss with us. Either their own, or that of friends and/or family. A lot of people, particularly those who had experienced a miscarriage, said that they thought that a stillbirth in late pregnancy must have been much harder.

About 18 months after losing Ewan, I met another local couple who had recently lost their baby. At the time we were both interested in setting up a local Sands support group. We shared our personal stories. Their baby had been born with various physical complications and died at about 3-4 days old. When I told them about Ewan’s stillbirth, the girl commented that our experience must have been much worse. Her reasoning was that at least they were able to spend a few days with their child.

I remember disagreeing with her. She had gone full-term and left work to go on maternity leave. They had the nursery ready and when she went into labour, were fully expecting to bring a healthy baby back to the house a few days later. I had only gone to 32 weeks and hadn’t finished work. We hadn’t decorated a nursery (partly because we were moving house). We also knew that when we went into hospital, we wouldn’t be bringing our baby home.

There is obviously something within us, or most of us, where we look at our own situation and maybe think how it could have been worse. Kind of looking on the bright side in a way. I know that I did that a lot. And still do. Ok, losing a baby so late on was bloody awful. One of the most horrendous things that could ever happen. But I am incredibly thankful for those 32 wonderful weeks. Adam and I were full of excitement and anticipation. We were nervous, as most first time parents are. I can remember the scans. I remember his first kick and the many more that followed. Talking about names. Booking NCT classes.

I have never experienced an early miscarriage but I have some friends who have. I have heard people say the words ‘it’s only a miscarriage’ or ‘she was only 8 weeks’. Seriously? There is no only about the loss of any baby. Whenever it occurs. I really do feel for those who have experienced miscarriage, because it is so often kept under wraps and not discussed. With early miscarriages, a lot of people wouldn’t have announced the pregnancy in the first place. So they often suffer in silence. An ex-work colleague of mine who has also started blogging, recently wrote a thought provoking post about it. It was only after her eldest boy was born, and through similar groups we joined on Facebook that I was aware of her losses.

What I am trying to say, in a roundabout and not very eloquent way, is that grief and loss is not a competition. No one person can hold the monopoly. Any loss is agonising. Just because someone loses a baby at 8 weeks, shouldn’t mean that it can be any less painful that losing a baby in the second or third trimester. I imagine it is a different type of pain and grief, but at the end of it all, there is still ache and longing. Loss is loss.

Did you know that 9th – 15th October is Baby Loss Awareness Week in the UK? A number of different charities work together to promote awareness and give parents, families and friends the opportunity to commemorate their babies lives. It is also an opportunity to talk more openly about baby loss. If you are interested in more information, visit the dedicated website. Ribbon pins are available from the Sands online shop. The week finishes each year on October 15th with the global ‘Wave of Light’. People all over the world will be lighting candles in memory of their babies. If you will be taking part, I would love to know.

Written in memory of all the angels who were taken too soon.

#babyloss #breakthesilence

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