Tag Archives: Sands

My Great Manchester Run

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15 months after giving birth to my second rainbow, 3 years since my last 10k race, and over 5 years after losing Ewan, I woke up last Sunday morning bright and early and ready to embark on the Great Manchester Run. Late last year I set my sights on running the Great North Run for SANDS which will take place in September 2016. To help myself prepare, I signed up to 2 x 10k races (I’m considering a third too!). The race in Manchester was the first of the challenges.

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As well as raising money, specifically earmarked for research in stillbirth and neonatal deaths, my aim is to continue keeping Ewan’s memory alive. I was delighted to receive in my race pack a few weeks prior to the event a plain bib which could be personalised to wear on my back. On Saturday night I fished out my black marker pen and then, in the absence of coloured felt tip pens, I grabbed Dylan’s box of crayons to brighten it up. I was pretty chuffed with the end result. What do you think?

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I drove myself to Manchester which only takes about 45 minutes. Unfortunately Adam had to work so couldn’t come and watch with the boys. I met up with a couple of people from work beforehand, but because we all started at varying times, as much as two hours for some people, we didn’t all manage to get to run together. My ‘wave’ started at 12.25pm. Because I had arrived early, I managed to watch the elite runners get underway. Firstly the wheelchair athletes, the women and finally the men. I watched the first wave of the ‘non-elites’ go and managed to spot a few SANDS runners and one of my college team members. I decided not to wait any longer and headed towards the holding area for the blue wave.

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With over 35,000 people taking part, an event such as this needs military organisation. and it worked. It was the first time I had taken part in this event and was easily able to find where I should congregate for the start. I turned up just before the mass warm up which was handy to get the blood pumping and muscles ready. A few more announcements and then we were off!

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Well, almost! It took about 7 minutes of shuffling before I actually crossed the start line. But then I really was off.

So what was it like? A few words spring to mind. Hot, busy, fun, busy, tiring, busy, memorable, busy, hot! Ok so a few are repeated. But that is because it really was very busy … and very hot! The weather did eventually break and the rain was pretty heavy, however that was about 5 minutes after I finished!

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I really enjoyed myself for the majority of the time. The course felt pretty flat compared to what I was used to training in hilly Lancashire. I had set myself a target  of trying to complete it within an hour. It was pretty ambitious given that my longest training run was 9.7 km completed in nearly 1 hr 1 minute. Still, I figured that the flat course would help. We ran all the way out to Old Trafford , Salford Quays and back from the city centre. Annoyingly, just as I was well in my stride by the time we got to Old Trafford, the running mass slowed down. I saw people taking photos and and even stopping to pose. Argh, it’s just a football stadium!!

There was a stretch of a couple of kilometres which were two-way. This meant that as I was starting out, I could look for my Nelson and Colne College team-mates who had started in the waves before me and hopefully cheer them on. We had our college logo on our t-shirts so they were easy to spot. I managed to see 2 staff members, but my brain just couldn’t work quickly enough. By the time I had got their names ready to shout encouragement, they had run past. Still, it helped to pre-occupy my mind for 15 minutes on the way out to Old Trafford and then on the way back too.

I knew I need to work on an average of 6 minutes per km. I clocked myself as I went over the start line and then at each km marker would check to see how I was faring. I was on track for the first half but it was between 5 and 8 km that I slowed down. At one point I was tempted to run with guy who had a portable speaker attached to his waist. He wasn’t just keeping himself going but entertaining everyone else around him too. As I passed, the speaker was playing ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ by Meat Loaf, one of my all-time favourites (and although he wouldn’t like to admit it, the first song Adam and I danced together to!). It gave me a welcome lift as a trudged on.

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Checking my split times on the website, I completed the last 2 km in 12 minutes and 2 seconds, which in retrospect was pretty good for me given it was the end of the race. I know I pushed myself hard on the last kilometre (I’d love to know that split time), and probably looked horrendous on the last stretch. Although there are plenty of official photos, I haven’t bothered to look at them. I’m not the prettiest runner in town.

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I finished though. And although I just missed out on going under that hour mark by 6 seconds (damn Old Trafford!) I was elated to complete my first challenge of the year. I collected my goody pack and started to devour the obligatory free food. I managed a few selfies to send to Adam (and upload to Facebook) before the rain started. I decided I deserved a Starbucks hot chocolate (with whipped cream) before heading home, proudly sporting my medal in the car!

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Running for Ewan really pushed me to complete this, and finish it in the best time I could. I was proud to wear his name on my back and hope I will be able to for future races. A huge thank you to my work colleagues who also ran for SANDS and to everyone who sponsored me (and the rest of the team).

My next event is just 5 days away – the Run For All Burnley 10K. Adam and I completed this 3 years ago when it was held for the first time, so I am really excited to take part again. We both raised £400+ for SANDS back then. I am also looking forward to Adam and the boys being able to  watch me seeing as it is so close to home. Anyone in the Burnley area, make sure you are en route cheering and supporting. You’ll need to be up early as it starts at 9.30am. I hope to see you there.

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

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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My first holiday Parkrun

With my first 10k race (the Great Manchester Run) taking place in 6 weeks, having a rest from training isn’t an option whilst on holiday. So this morning I took the opportunity to be a real Parkrun tourist and turned up to Penrith Parkrun bright and early. As well as it being my first holiday Parkrun, it was also the first Parkrun of the year where I didn’t have a jacket (well hello sun!) and also the first time I wore my new Parkrun wristband, an early birthday present from Adam.

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My parkrun and Centre Parcs wristbands

One beauty of Parkrun is that with it taking place in 350+ locations around the UK, if you are away from home and want to run, it’s is likely there will be somewhere nearby. It’s a great opportunity to compare different courses and discover new places. Penrith Parkrun is in a truly enviable location. At one point I was running towards the dramatic (still) snow capped peaks of the northern Lake District. In the opposite direction I could see the sparkling river Eamont in front of the Appleby fells. And then hidden behind the busy A66, the crumbling tops of Brougham Castle. Pretty spectacular really.

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Snowcapped Lakeland Fells

As mentioned earlier, it was the first time this year that I ran without a jacket. In short sleeves no less. That felt like a cause for celebration in itself. The sun was really strong, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t July. It’s the excuse I’ve given myself that I didn’t run as fast as I’d hoped. When I first turned up, I thought there might be a good chance I would beat my PB because the course was so flat. The sun beat me (and probably also because I hadn’t drunk enough water!)

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Hot but happy!

Here’s hoping the good weather continues for the rest of the week. We have embarked on our first Centre Parcs adventure, so maybe I’ll write about our experience as CP virgins. It’s hard not to be relaxed when this was my view writing earlier (it helped that one child was napping and the other conked out watching the Little Mermaid after a busy morning at the adventure playground and pool!)

Thoroughly relaxing view

Thoroughly relaxing view

I think I’ve earned a bit of a relax after my morning workout.

If you want to read more about my running and fundraising goals this year, take a look at some of my previous blogs.

Getting my Great North Run place

The Great North Run Idea

The Importance of SANDS

I am raising money for SANDS in memory of our angel, Ewan. If you are able to make a contribution, however big or small, please visit my justgiving page www.justgiving.com/running4ewan.

I’m In!!!!

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An excuse to get some new running shoes!!

Well if you like my Facebook page then you can guess what this post is about. I can’t say it more simply that I GOT IN! Yes, I’ve finally got confirmation that I have a charity place to do the Great North Run in September. Crucially, the charity place is for SANDS.

I’m not being overdramatic when I say that I was devastated not to get a place through the ballot. I really was. I’ve been running regularly since the start of the year (well at least once a week) and just assumed I would get in. On the day the results of the ballot were emailed out, at least 5 people I knew were celebrating on Facebook because they’d been successful. I wanted to be so pleased for them, especially as most said they wanted to run for SANDS too.

I hoped SANDS would have some places, but also knew that they wouldn’t have many. I sent my application off along with a few begging emails. One of my friends (who got a ballot place) emailed in support saying she’d been planning to run with me. Another friend said that I could have their place if I didn’t get one through SANDS (how lovely).

I really was worried I wouldn’t get a place. And I really didn’t want to contemplate what would happen if I was unsuccessful. As much as I wanted to run, I didn’t want to run for anyone else other than SANDS. The charity is more important than the run.

Now I don’t need to worry about getting in. I just need to worry about making sure I train enough!! I know I can run 13.1 miles. I’ve done it 3 times before, so that does help. Not that it makes the training any easier mind. My regular Saturday Parkrunning will give me a solid foundation but I now need to make time to get out during the week. Bring on the lighter nights!

So I’m sorry that now I’ll be harping on about this for the next few months. Hopefully you will enjoy tracking my progress (and not be too bored with it!). Who knows? Maybe you’ll even be inspired to get those dusty running shoes out from under your bed and sign up for a 5 or 10k yourself. And even better, raise money for SANDS.

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If you are interested in my Great North Run journey, you might want to read my first declaration of intent – Running for Ewan

If you want to take up running and don’t know where to start, why not look at Parkrun – I’m hooked. Read more about it in 8 Reasons to Love Parkrun and My First Parkrun

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.

 

Eight Reasons to Love Parkrun

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Yesterday morning I completed my eighth parkrun. New Year’s resolutions and all, I decided if I was going to get off my backside and start running properly this year, I needed to start as I meant to go on. I’ve written about my first parkrun here and also about how I want to do the Great North Run this year to raise money for SANDS in Ewan’s memory.

Eight parkrun’s isn’t a huge accomplishment but it’s one I am proud of as I haven’t run much over the past couple of years. Anyway I’ve decided to compile a list of the reasons (so far) why I love parkrun and hopefully motivate others take part too.

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A great start to the weekend

Gone are the days when Saturday mornings are spent in bed till noon, nursing a hangover. If I’m lucky, it’s a 7am wake up call and I’m straight into mum mode. So it doesn’t feel a huge effort to get myself ready for a 9am run seeing as I’ve been up at least 2 hours already. Ok the run feels tough when I’m doing it, but afterwards, I have a sense of achievement. I get on with my day feeling rather smug wondering how many other people have a 5k under their belt by 10am?

 

It’s free

Perfect for a tight northerner like me! No expensive gym memberships or class subscriptions required. Parkrun doesn’t cost a penny.

 

The great outdoors

I’ve never been one for gyms. Sorry, it’s just not for me. If I’m going to run, I want to be out and about and get fresh air into my lungs. All parkruns are, believe it or not …. in parks! My local run is in the beautiful surroundings of Towneley Park in Burnley, Lancashire. I’m sure there are equally stunning locations up and down the country. It’s good for the soul to spend time outdoors, whatever the weather.

 

Motivation

I can’t imagine getting up on a Saturday morning and motivating myself to go out for a 5k run. In fact, I am not good a motivating myself to run full stop. I generally find that I can only run when I have a goal to work towards. Getting fit after having my babies was one goal. Running a charity 10k or half marathon has been another. I find it hard to get out otherwise. I don’t tend to run just for pleasure.

Parkrun is helping to be that motivation. It gives me something to look forward to and work towards. This New Year I am aiming to get out for two runs during the week, hoping that it will improve my Saturday parkrun times.

There is also the motivation to beat the person in front, to improve on each run and chase that PB.

 

Volunteers

Each parkrun is run entirely by volunteers. Now I would be impressed if that just applied to one or two parkruns. But it applies to every single parkrun. Hats off to all those who turn up before 9am to be assigned a role and then stand there in all weathers, marshalling and (most importantly) clapping and encouraging us runners on. And of course, the runs wouldn’t take place without them.

 

Family

Parkrun is a real family affair. Each time I have taken part, I have seen plenty of younger children running (I am talking 5, 6, 7 year olds!) with their mums, dads, grandma’s and grandad’s. I can’t think there would be many other regular opportunities where this can happen. It is such an uplifting sight.

Even babies can take part …. well kind of. A few parents run with buggies (those special 3 wheeled ones designed for bumpy terrain). Someone I know is a good 5 minutes faster than me … with her 18 month old in the buggy. That’s kind of embarrassing really.

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Thanks to my parents I’ve managed to run with Adam a couple of times

Each week there are hundreds of photographs posted on the local parkrun Facebook page. It is really wonderful to see so many happy kids, of all ages, enjoying themselves with friends and family, getting fit and keeping healthy. I hope that maybe when my active, almost 4 year old gets a bit older, he will be keen to take part too.

 

Technology & Timing

I am blown away by the technology used. It is absolutely amazing!!! Starting from the moment you sign up to parkrun, you get a unique running number and a barcode. You print off your barcode (in a handy credit card size) and bring it with you. At the end of the run you get a tag which tells you your position (in the race). This is then collected and your barcode is scanned.

IMG_7156Between 2-4 hours later, a text message is sent with your time and position. I think it’s great how quickly this arrives, but it feels like forever when you are waiting to find out whether you have beaten your PB or not!

You can then go onto the website or Facebook page of your local parkrun and delve into the statistics even further. How many people took part? (In my case) How many women? This gives you an idea of how well placed (or not) you are. For example, you may have come 30th overall, but be the first female home (for the record that has never happened to me, nor is ever likely!). There is also an Age Grading (now for the science bit). This is compiled using your time and the world record for your sex and age group to produce a score. The higher your score (a percentage), the better you are. It just helps if you want to compare yourself to other runners who are a different age or sex.

It’s baffling the amount of stats available and you can look at all your past runs and compare times. And for a free event? It’s nothing short of miraculous.

 

Community

The word community means so many things when it comes to parkrun. From the army of volunteers to the hundreds who turn up each week. Although I’ve taken part in such a small number, I think at every run I’ve ended up talking to one or more stranger. It could be about the weather or if we were happy with our times. Maybe to encourage someone who has stopped to walk, or to tell someone their laces are untied! I spent one run chatting away to a woman with two dogs. My time wasn’t very good but I had lots of fun.

I’ve seen colleagues from work, friends from school, and even my junior school teacher who first encouraged me to start running.

It’s great to see such a huge variety of people gathered together; different ages, abilities and backgrounds. All sharing in one common goal.

 

If you are a parkrunner, do you have anything else to add? If you aren’t, I hope I’ve convinced you to take it up in 2016. To find your nearest parkrun, check out the parkrun website

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Before my first parkrun. Don’t know why I looked so nervous!

 

 

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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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!

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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

Running for Ewan

gnr-largeI am making a bold statement. Now. In print.

Next year I am going to do the Great North Run.

There, I said it. I’ll have to do it now. Who’s going to join me?

GNR05

In 2005 with my buddy Ruth

I’ve run it before, but not for a long time. The first time was in 2003. I ran with a friend. We both ran to mend our respective broken hearts at the time! We chose the British Red Cross as our charity.

In 2005 I ran with another couple of friends (no broken hearts this time) for Colitis and Crohn’s UK. In 2007, I ran again with a different friend and Adam as well, although he was miles ahead of us. Instead we plodded along and talked about her impending relationship break up and new fella (it kept us going for a good 6 miles). That time we ran for Asthma UK, a condition Adam has had since he was very young.

GNR07

2007 – beaten by a Stormtrooper!

 

So it will be 9 years since last taking the journey up to Newcastle. I’ve been inspired by a friend who ran on Sunday. She had a baby in January, just a few weeks before me. I was super impressed that she managed to get fit enough in 7 months to run a half marathon (I have so far managed a 5k Parkrun!).

You might remember I wrote a post about it. She chose to run for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) having read my blog and it made me so happy that the time I spent writing had a little bit of effect on someone.

So I’m going to run for Sands, a cause very close to my heart. Adam and I have done a lot of fundraising over the past 5 years and I want to carry it on.

I’m going to run for my angel, Ewan.

Get yourself signed up. If you go to the Great North Run website you can sign up for their reminder service so you will get an email when the ballot opens. My first aim is to get a place through the ballot. If I am unsuccessful, then hopefully I will get a place through Sands. Whatever happens, I am running.

So, does anyone out there want to join me? Join #TeamSands for #TeamEwan!

Come on, you know you want to.

Sands logo

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!