Tag Archives: charity

Blogging – is it worth it?

Yesterday I received a message from a friend. She is running the Great North Run in a couple of weeks and she had just set up a Justgiving page to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society). Friends and regular readers will know that this is a cause very close to my heart. I was really touched, because she told me that reading my blog had moved her to choose Sands. Claire and I don’t see each other very often, I bet it is a good 4-5 years since we last met. We have a mutual close friend who we were both bridesmaids together for and so we get updates on each other through Olivia. We also both have boys of very similar ages and obviously get to see them growing up through Facebook.

Receiving Claire’s message made me so incredibly happy. Sometimes as I am tapping away late at night on the laptop (when really I should be getting as much sleep as I can with two rainbows to run around after), I wonder how many people are reading my posts. Before getting into the blogging business, I was aware of a few parenting blogs, but I had absolutely no idea how many! There are easily hundreds, likely to be thousands. Maybe more. Some have tens of thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers. Some of them blog as a full-time job. How can I compete against that!

To date I only have 134 Twitter followers, 106 Facebook Likes and 10 people subscribed to my blog, yet lots of these wonderful people have taken time to send me some lovely messages of support. In the beginning it was only friends and family reading, but I know now there are ‘strangers’ out there. People I’ve never met. That in itself is incredibly exciting.

So I just need to remember that it’s not about competing. I didn’t start writing to be Britain’s Most Popular Blogger. I started writing for the all the reasons I put in my very first post. I am writing for me. And inspiring someone to run 13.1 miles for a cause that I have written about……. Sometimes there are no words for that.

If you want to sponsor Claire, please visit her Justgiving page. I need to give her extra kudos because she had a baby in January, just a few weeks before me. I can just about manage a 5k Parkrun on a Saturday morning. Getting fit enough to completing a half marathon is no mean feat, so my hat is definitely off to her!

Sands logo

Anyone can raise money for Sands. Visit their website for ideas. Let me know if you do.

 

Oh and if you like what you read and  want to share my blog on Twitter, Facebook or wherever, please do!

Group B Strep Awareness Campaign

gbss-header-logo

One of my aims with this blog is to raise awareness of stillbirth, baby loss and anything connected to it. Since launching myself on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I have learnt about a charity called Group B Strep Support and their ‘Why Guess’ campaign. July is Group Strep B awareness month which is possibly why I have heard so much about it. So whilst we are still in July (just) I wanted to pass on the information I have learnt to you all (another example of me devouring information on a website!), and hopefully engage your support.

In a nutshell, Group B Streptococcus is a normally occurring bacterium which is usually harmless and can be found in around 20-30% of people. However it can be passed from mother to baby around birth, and for those babies that develop Group B Strep infection it is potentially life-threatening.

Here come the numbers:

  1. Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing septicaemia, pneumonia and meningitis
  2. Every week in the UK, one baby dies from group B infection
  3. Every fortnight in the UK, one survivor is left with long term mental or physical disabilities

Whilst many developed countries routinely offer pregnant women testing for Group B Strep, it is not offered in the UK. According to the charity, the test would cost £11 and if Group B Strep is detected, then it can be treated with penicillin. £11? I mean that’s not expensive is it? You can buy an 8 piece KFC bargain bucket for £10.99 (not sure why I used KFC as an example, I hate it!).

So you might be thinking, hmmm, one baby dies a week, that’s actually just 52 babies a year. Compare that with the 700,000+ babies born each year. Maybe that is why the test is not justified (I don’t know .. I am just speculating!). And although the test may seem cheap to us – £11, when you multiply it for every pregnant women that comes to well over £7 million a year. Now I’m not Jeremy Hunt (and I’m extremely glad I’m not – that guy is one seriously unpopular Health Secretary dude) and I don’t have the NHS purse strings. I don’t know exactly how much everything costs …. although I am guessing that they have one seriously LARGE budget. I do have friends who work for the NHS (and work bloody hard too) and they tell me how frustrated they can get with the money and time which is wasted.

And what I do know is this. I know the pain of losing a baby. I know the pain of having your dreams shattered in a heartbeat. I know how it feels when all the excitement of a newborn comes crashing down around you. I know that if Ewan had died because of an infection which could have easily tested and easily treated ……………. Actually that I don’t know. I can only imagine. Disbelief, horror, frustration, anger. Along with all the other awful feelings that bereavement brings.

So for that reason, I signed the petition asking for the NHS to routinely provide tests to pregnant women to prevent any more avoidable deaths. If you agree with me, then please do the same.

Group B Strep Petition

At the time of writing, there are over £190,000 signatures. Wouldn’t it be amazing to help push this up to their target of 200,000?

All the Group B Strep information has come from the GBS Support website if you want to read more. You can follow them on Twitter @GBSSupport and on Facebook

I think this is a really worthy campaign. I hope you do too. If you do sign the petition, I’d be really interested to know – leave a comment below, or on Facebook/Twitter.

And just a final thought for all the angels who have been taken, and the families who have been affected. My heart goes out to you all. Much love.

The charity we never knew existed

We found out Ewan had died before he was born. His heart stopped beating when I was 32 weeks pregnant. We were in hospital at the time and after the ultrasound, we were taken to their Serenity Suite for an explanation on what would happen next. It was at this point we were given a leaflet by one of the midwives ‘When a baby dies before labour begins’. It had been written and published by a charity called Sands – the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society. This was the first time I had ever heard of them. I was still reeling from the fact that I thought stillbirth ended in the 1920’s. Yet here we were in the 21st century, discovering otherwise. And not only that but a charity dedicated to stillbirth research, supporting families and training professionals. The booklet helped to prepare us for what was to come. The birth, creating memories and keepsakes, the funeral, post-mortems. Things that clearly we didn’t have a clue about.

Sands logo

We elected to go home instead of staying in hospital for the next 48 hours. That night in between speaking to friends and family, I read the booklet from cover to cover. Although we had been given some of the information in hospital, we had been too dazed and in shock to take it all in. Afterwards I went on the Sands website and when in the early hours sleep deserted me, I read virtually every single webpage. There was a section called ‘My Story’ in which bereaved parents and family had written about their personal experiences. I think I looked at all of them. I needed to find out what they had been through. How had their babies died? It was as though I could gain some comfort in knowing other people had a similar experience to us. It helped to know that we weren’t alone. With each story I cried fresh tears, joining in their grief along with my own.

Reading the website I realised that whilst stillbirth is not common, it isn’t as rare as you may think. There are more instances of stillbirth than SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or cot death as it used to be known. In the year Ewan was born (2011) there were 3,811 stillbirths compared with 723,913 live births. In the same year there were 244 unexplained infant deaths (this includes sudden infant death). All statistics are from the Office for National Statistics website.

In the days after Ewan’s birth, we had to plan his funeral. We kept it a very small affair with immediate family and a couple of close friends. Someone rang and asked if we wanted flowers or money donating to a charity. Before then I hadn’t really attended a lot of funerals, so wasn’t familiar with the practise of donating money. It seemed fitting to choose Sands as a charity and so set up a Justgiving page in memory of Ewan. We told our friend and then decided to message the link to a few people, just so they didn’t feel as though they needed to ring with the same question (we quickly realised how some people found it difficult to make initial contact with us). I still have a copy of the email I sent the day after Ewan was born:

In Memory of Ewan

Hi everyone  

I’m more or less 100% sure that you are all aware of our recent news. If not then the link below will explain everything further.   We have had lots of extremely kind words, cards, text messages, emails and phone calls. We have also received a lot of flowers which have been a comfort to us both, brighten up our home and look beautiful. However we are starting to run out of space! A few people have asked whether we would like flowers at the funeral or a donation to charity. As such this has prompted us to set up a Justgiving memorial page in Ewan’s memory. We have chosen the charity SANDS (the stillbirth and neonatal death charity) – the information on their website, leaflets from the hospital and hospital facilities have already helped us enormously. If you would like to visit the page and/or donate then that would please us both tremendously however there is no pressure if you don’t.

 

We set up a system with Justgiving that I received an email every time a donation was made. Within an hour the first email came, then another, and another and so on. We were completely taken aback with how quickly our friends, family and work colleagues responded and also how generously. The page suddenly became a tiny ray of hope and joy to us. We got more excited with each donation and each landmark – £500, £1000. The amount kept rising! We said to ourselves ‘Look at our clever boy. He’s raised so much money’. It cheered us that something positive was coming out of a negative.

Justgiving (2)

To date the total on the page stands at £7111 plus gift aid of £679. This includes money from a quiz we held a few months later, donations from guests at a friend’s wedding (instead of gifts) and a friend’s baby sweepstake! We are so immensely proud of our son for raising this money and never dreamed it would be so high. We would have been happy with £500.

Talking to a friend last night, she asked if we were still raising money for Sands. When I thought about it, I realised it was quite some time since our last fundraising venture – we both took part in a local 10k run two years ago and raised over £400. Although recently Dylan’s nursery had a fun day and half the money raised was donated to Sands. Adam has also just started a monthly donation and I have recently booked another quiz night for October. But it made me think how I would like to use this blog to help further raise awareness of stillbirth and the work of Sands, along with other stillbirth and baby loss charities. If just one donation is made as a result of this blog post, I will be over the moon.

Sands 10k

The understanding and help we gained from Sands was invaluable and if we can help to raise money to support others, again this would be a great comfort to us. And of course, be ever more proud of our beautiful Angel.